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Bears Breakdown

Bears turn free play into momentum-swinging TD

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Justin Fields' 38-yard strike to DJ Moore for a touchdown on fourth-and-13, which broke a 13-13 tie late in the third quarter against the Lions Sunday, served as a "big momentum shift" for the Bears.

Fields' perfect deep ball was caught in stride around the 5-yard line. Moore had a step on Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs and coasted right into the end zone.

But the play was never supposed to happen.

"It was supposed to be a freeze play," Moore said. "I seen the dude on the other side, I guess the D-end jumped, and shoot, I took off on my side. I was like, 'man, they ain't stoppin' this.'"

What Moore saw from the opposite side of the field was Lions star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson jump offsides, teeing up a free play for Fields and the Bears offense, who had no intention of snapping the ball.

"I thought 'no way in hell are they jumping,'" tight end Cole Kmet said. "They jumped. I don't know how you could jump in that situation, but they did.

"I was shocked. Shocked."

The slip up by Hutchinson started with the communication between offensive linemen Braxton Jones, Teven Jenkins and Lucas Patrick.

"They bit on the fake there," Jones said. "I don't even think we were trying to run a play. They bit on it, so it was just cool to see. I mean, we sold it. Tev [Jenkins] had great communication there, was like 'Go to this guy. Go to that guy.' Called different things and we just got them to jump. Then [we] just let DJ do DJ. Go DJ."

After seeing how the line sold the protection adjustment, Kmet jumped in the mix as he looked out to receiver Darnell Mooney and gave a signal "like we were going to switch routes."

"They bought it," Kmet added.

Then came the quick snap from Patrick immediately after he realized Hutchinson jumped, giving Fields the time and space to drop back and find the lethal matchup of Moore one-on-one with a defender.

From there, "either you go win or you go win," Moore said after the game.

As Fields reflected on the touchdown in his press conference, he believed the key to drawing Hutchinson offsides was treating it like any other play.

To make it appear real, Fields said the unit "did a dummy protection adjustment" and on "the second one, we got somebody to jump."

All 11 played their roles perfectly on the game-changing play, but coach Matt Eberflus praised Fields for his overall execution throughout the play, from the cadence to his dime to Moore.

"It's Justin," Eberflus said. "It's the hard count. He did a really good job of hard counting and just a really good job there, and they got them to jump. His use of cadence, that's what it was.

"[It was] a really good throw, really good catch, and really good reaction because when they jump, you've got to beat them to the punch because the defense isn't quite ready when that happens. What happens is a lot of times the D-line stops. When they jump offsides, they stop, they hesitate, so you have a little bit more time, and that's exactly what happened on that play."

While the free play came as a shock in the moment, its success was anything but coincidental.

Kmet noted that the Bears offense practices those situations "all the time" whether it's in a walk-through or practice and a scout team member accidentally jumps, allowing the free play to "become second nature." Fields echoed the importance of repping that moment on a consistent basis.

"It's not a challenge because we practice it multiple times a week," Fields said. "We're used to it. Might have happened like three times this week during practice and walk-throughs. It happens every week, and the guys are ready for it, and we executed it. It ended up being a big play."

The unexpected touchdown, which marked Moore's second score of the day, would be the last lead change of the day and catapulted the Bears to a 28-13 victory — the team's second consecutive divisional win.

Sending the Lions home with a loss from Soldier Field felt even sweeter for the Bears, who were still disappointed in the outcome from their Nov. 19 meeting in Detroit.

"It's big time," Moore said. "We should've won when we went there, and we had to get 'em back when they came to our house. So to have this one is extra special. To have back-to-back is extra special too ... looking to stack more."

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