The Bears typically defer until the second half when they win the coin flip, but that wasn't the case Sunday at Soldier Field.
They wanted the ball and wanted to march down the field to score a touchdown that would give them an early 7-0 lead over the Lions.
And that's exactly what happened—with David Montgomery's 4-yard TD run capping a 9-play, 75-yard drive and giving the Bears a 7-0 edge they would never relinquish in a 24-14 victory.
"In a perfect world, we'd go ahead and get a touchdown and go up 7-0 and let our defense go," said coach Matt Nagy. "That's what happened. Does it always work? No. Do we always do it? No. But sometimes I feel like, as a head coach, you talk to your coordinators and you talk to your coaches and you make a decision, and whatever it is you roll with it."
Sunday marked just the second time in 29 games since Nagy became coach in 2018 that the Bears won the coin toss and did not defer until the second half. The only other previous occurrence was last Dec. 20 in Minnesota when the Bears opted to receive the opening kickoff but went three-and-out in an eventual 33-27 win.
On the Bears' opening drive, Montgomery rushed for 31 yards on six carries and Justin Fields completed 3 of 3 passes for 29 yards.
"Us winning the toss and scoring on the first drive, that definitely set the tone for us the rest of the game," Fields said. "I'm just proud of everybody on offense, from the O-line to the receivers to the running backs running hard. I think we all executed today at a high level."
"Our job as an offense is, when we step on the field, to score touchdowns," added center Sam Mustipher. "We haven't done that enough, and coming out and taking the ball and marching down the field was an awesome feeling and it got the confidence going after a rough week last week, and we just set the tone for the game."
After a poor performance a week earlier in a 26-6 loss to the Browns, the entire Bears offense gained redemption Sunday, especially the line. The offense reduced the number of sacks it allowed from nine last Sunday to one and increased the total yards it produced from 47 to 373.
"A lot of guys come back into the building on Monday to do recovery and stuff like that," Mustipher said. "The energy wasn't, 'Oh, woe is me.' It was, 'How can we get this right?' I believe that was the energy across the board and specifically on offense. I can speak for the offensive line. It was, 'Get that taste out of our mouth and let's get back to work. So, how can we fix things?'"
The Bears offense also reduced the number of quarterback hits it permitted from 15 in Cleveland to four Sunday.
"The O-line did a great job," Fields said. "They only let up one sack and that sack was on me. I should have checked the ball down in the flat faster than that. But the O-line played great. I'm proud of those guys."
Fields rebounded by completing 11 of 17 passes for 209 yards with one interception and an 82.7 passer rating. He helped lead the Bears to three touchdowns after they were held out of the end zone in Cleveland.
"I've been in tough spots before, and my mindset was just to bounce back from last week, just to get better and keep pushing," Fields said. "I saw [Seahawks quarterback] Russell Wilson posted a tweet this past week saying, 'I love adversity,' and I truly do love that because it just brings a whole different person out of me, and in some ways I'm glad last week happened. I think if we would've won last week, it wouldn't have pushed us as much to get better and practice hard."
The Bears didn't complete a pass of more than 21 yards in their first three games this season. But on Sunday, Fields connected on throws of 64 and 32 yards to Darnell Mooney and 28 and 27 yards to Allen Robinson II.
The 64-yarder to Mooney was the Bears' longest pass play since Oct. 28, 2018 when Tarik Cohen turned a screen pass from Mitchell Trubisky into a 70-yard touchdown in a 24-10 win over the Jets.
"Me and Justin locked eyes and once he looked at me, I was like, 'OK,' Mooney said. "So, I gave my eyes to the safety. I found out where he was and I took my route higher."
The long connection set up Montgomery's second TD run, which gave the Bears a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
"That's a big play in the game and that's going to give us momentum," Fields said. "The more explosive plays you can get, the better … That was a big shot, and that just goes with momentum and practice. Me and Mooney, we stay almost every day after practice to throw at least a few extra routes so me and him are pretty much always on the same page. He had a great day today. He balled out."
Mooney led the Bears with five receptions for 125 yards. It was the first 100-yard game of his career; his high last year as a rookie was 93 yards in the regular-season finale against the Packers.
Cairo Santos made the only field goal he attempted Sunday, a 33-yarder late in the third quarter, to extend his Bears record to 32 straight field goals. It's now the longest active streak in the NFL because the two players with longer streaks—the Giants' Graham Gano and the Patriots' Nick Folk—both missed field-goal attempts Sunday.
Watch the Bears' Week 4 game against the Detroit Lions unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers at Soldier Field.