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After Further Review

Eberflus: Fourth-down stop was pivotal 'momentum play'


The turning point in Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Browns came on the first play of the fourth quarter.

With the Bears leading 17-7 and facing fourth-and-1 from the Cleveland 33, Justin Fields took a snap from center, faked a handoff to D'Onta Foreman and rolled to the right. It was a run/pass option, so Fields could have thrown to DJ Moore. But the quarterback saw open space in front of him and took off running, realizing that a first down likely would have at least put the Bears in field-goal range.

Unfortunately, cornerback Cameron Mitchell tripped up Fields from behind. Fields dove forward but landed inches short of the first-down marker.

The Browns took possession and proceeded to turn a 17-7 deficit into a 20-17 victory by generating two field goals and a touchdown on their final four drives.

"It's really about seizing momentum," said coach Matt Eberflus. "That fourth-and-1 is a momentum play. We're there in their scoring zone. We're outside the kick line, and all of the sudden we make that play and then you go up, it's 20-7 or it's 24-7 at that time. That was the momentum play. Those are the plays we've got to make. That was a good call for that down, and we've got to make those plays.

"Momentum's going to shift back and forth, and we've got to seize it back. And that's what we talked to the players about."

Play of the day

The most impressive play by the Bears offense Sunday came in the second quarter when Fields shook off star pass rusher Myles Garrett in the backfield, rolled to the left and rifled a 5-yard touchdown pass to Cole Kmet just inside the sideline.

"I didn't see the replay until after the game, and how he got out of that, that was impressive," Kmet said. "I got to the corner, noticed that he was scrambling, made a move and Justin came rolling back to my side and he made a fantastic throw."

Missed opportunity

After Sunday's game, Eberflus said that the Bears should have intercepted the pass that Joe Flacco threw to Amari Cooper that resulted in a 51-yard touchdown, tying the score 17-17 with 3:08 to play.

Cooper caught the ball between cornerback Terell Smith and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and then turned up field and raced down the right sideline.

"That play is a deep crossing route," Eberflus said Monday. "The corner has to make a good vision and break, break one-third the distance when the ball is in the air. We've got to do a good job of getting him on the ground. A lot of times what you do is you track the ball and not understand where the reception area is, and they've got to do a good job of understanding where it is and get him on the ground."

Key to success

The Browns produced the five longest plays from scrimmage in the game, with Flacco pass completions of 57, 51, 42, 34 and 31 yards. The Bears' longest play was Fields' 30-yard pass to Tyler Scott on their final possession.

"You want to eliminate explosive plays [on defense] and you want to get explosive plays on offense," Edmunds said. "That's the key to success. That's the key to victory. They had a couple of big plays to hurt us, plays that we definitely wished that we had back. And that was probably the difference in the ballgame."

Translating to game

Edmunds isn't surprised that the Bears have generated 14 takeaways, including 12 interceptions, in their last four games, the most in the NFL during that span. It's the most in a four-game stretch by the Bears since they also had 14 in the first four weeks of the 2013 season.

"The way that we practice, I think it's just translating to the game," Edmunds said. "We practice fast. Those takeaways come up throughout practice. We talk about it in film, whatever it may be. If it's something wrong, we talk about it. If it's something right, we talk about it. Give credit where credit is due.

"I'm just glad that the outside world is being able to see it now because I see it day-in and day-out at practice, and that's always a good thing."

Stepping up

Rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson made a sensational diving interception at the Bears' 1, one play after the Browns had recovered Trent Taylor's muffed punt at the Chicago 20.

"That was a big-time play by Tyrique, him showing his athleticism," Edmunds said. "[He's a] guy that's continued to grind throughout this season. This is his rookie year. He's needed to face a lot of adversity this year, but he's continued to grind, never made an excuse for himself, never pointed the finger.

"Each day at practice he comes out with the mentality to get better, and you can see it. He makes those plays at practice. Everybody doesn't see it, but I see it each and every day. I see the way he works. I see the way that he goes about his business. So definitely a big-time play for him to be able to give the offense another possession and definitely helped our team a lot."

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