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Bears soak in first win on soggy day

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

Less than two hours to game time on Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for Chicago. Pools of water had formed across Soldier Field as heavy rain plagued the area all morning. When Bears and 49ers players began to warm up, water splashed after every step, chalk lines on the field began to fade and the downpour continued.

The Bears staff at Soldier Field got to work, using squeegees on every inch of the field to push the rain off the turf. By kickoff, the field was still saturated, but the large puddles were cleared, and the lines were redrawn.

The weather remained relatively calm during the first half, with light rain falling on and off. But once the fourth quarter hit, the downpour ensued again. By then, the Bears had already taken a 13-10 lead and with 7:24 remaining, they grabbed an insurance touchdown to go up 19-10.

As the 49ers fought to come back, the rain poured harder, the field covered with water and the paint on the field blurred throughout the grass. With 30 seconds left on the clock, the Bears set up in victory formation.

As soon as quarterback Justin Fields took a knee, he sprinted toward the end zone with teammates right beside him, and dove across the drenched grass with his arms out wide before jumping up to flex and yell toward the crowd.

"That was awesome," Fields said. "We talked about it like right before we took the last knee, and all the guys were excited to run to the end zone and do that. So that was a snapshot moment, for sure."

Fields can't remember who proposed the idea, but everyone gladly went with it, creating an unforgettable moment for the Bears.

"I heard it and I was, like, 'oh, yeah, everybody's got to do it,'" Fields said. "So [I] took the last snap and then we all just ran into the end zone and did that. So that was cool."

Tight end Cole Kmet, fullback Khari Blasingame, wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette and offensive linemen Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick and Braxton Jones all joined Fields in the slip-and-slide celebration.

Fields said the weather affected the game plan "a little bit," but he was proud of his teammates for handling it well and praised center Sam Mustipher for his consistent snaps.

The weather was sloppiest in the fourth quarter and 49ers quarterback Trey Lance said it was the toughest part of the game. Receiver Deebo Samuel added the ball felt heavy near the end of the game, making it difficult for Lance to throw it and the receiver to catch it.

The Bears special teams unit also endured some complications with the weather. With 32 seconds left in the first half, the Bears set up for a 47-yard field goal while trailing 7-0. But punter Trenton Gill was flagged for bringing a towel onto the field to wipe the playing surface. The 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty forced the Bears to punt.

After the game, Gill said he didn't know about the penalty and never played a game with a couple inches of water on the field. Kicker Cairo Santos said he didn't think he did anything wrong in the moment but accepted the blame for the flag.

"Regarding that play, I'm taking responsibility for that because you are allowed to use a towel to dry your hands," Santos said. "So, I just wanted to flatten the spot and just grabbed his towel and did it myself and the referee called him. It was really my responsibility."

Fans at Soldier Field didn't let the weather get in their way of supporting the Bears in their season opener. Stands were still full on the final snap of the game as soaked fans dressed in ponchos erupted in cheers as the clock ran out.

Even after the Bears' celebration, as the heavy rain continued to fall, players stayed on the field to soak in the win with their teammates.

Linebacker Roquan Smith walked across the field with a towel over his head and a smile plastered on his face before expressing his emotions about the win.

"I'm feeling like a kid out here today, for real," Smith said. "It was like growing up in Georgia, playing in the rain and then you're out here dreaming about playing on Sunday and that happens, oh my."

Bring your umbrella and check out the best photos from Sunday's rain-soaked victory over the 49ers at Soldier Field.