There was at least one significant silver lining in the Bears' 31-26 loss to the Lions Sunday in Detroit.
Quarterback Justin Fields excelled in his return after missing four games with a dislocated right thumb, generating impact plays through the air and on the ground.
Fields completed 16 of 23 passes for 169 yards with one touchdown and a 105.2 passer rating and rushed for a season-high 104 yards on 18 carries.
Making his first start since Oct. 15 against the Vikings, the third-year pro displayed no rust and said the layoff actually helped him.
"It affected me positively," Fields said. "Shoot, I felt like it was the first game of the season out there. My body felt good. I was just trying to at practice just keep my conditioning, running wides and just like that. My body felt good, 100 percent, going into the game."
Fields' most impressive pass resulted in a 39-yard touchdown to DJ Moore down the seam, which gave the Bears a 20-14 lead in the third quarter. It came after the two had failed to connect on a similar play earlier in the game.
"He should've had another post for a touchdown," Fields said. "I overthrew him on the first one. But we knew going into it that safety kind of gets nosey on high crosses, low crosses, and he sometimes plays it low. So just saw the low safety and put the post on it. I told him I wasn't going to miss him on it again if we came back to it. And, of course, DJ ran a great route, line protected, just felt like I had all day back there on that one. Just delivered the ball to DJ. Of course, he did a good job of getting his feet down and it was a great play all around."
The 39-yard TD pass was Fields' longest of the season.
On a crucial play late in the game, Fields failed to connect with rookie receiver Tyler Scott on a long play deep down the field. With the Bears protecting a 26-21 lead, the speedy Scott beat his man on third-and-9 from the Chicago 26 but was unable to haul it in. The Bears were forced to punt on the next play with 2:33 remaining.
"Safety came down, went out in coverage," Fields said. "It was just one-on-one, he had him beat, and I think he just misjudged the ball. He was running straight and then I think he tried to run a little bit like that, got off balance a little bit and that's what caused him to kind of lose his speed. He's a young player with a bright future in this league and he'll be good."
A long completion to Scott in that situation would have given the Bears a chance to extend their 26-21 lead and take more time off the clock.
"If that connects, I think that seals the deal in my opinion," Fields said.
Line changes: After missing four games with an ankle injury, Nate Davis returned to start at right guard, joining left tackle Braxton Jones, left guard Teven Jenkins, center Lucas Patrick and right tackle Darnell Wright. It was the Bears' eighth different starting offensive line combination in 11 games this season.
Patrick exited briefly in the first half after being drilled by a blindside block and then sat out the second half with a back injury. He was replaced by Dan Feeney.
After starting all 117 games he played since being selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2016 draft, offensive lineman Cody Whitehair served in a backup role Sunday, playing only on special teams.
Turning it over: Lions quarterback Jared Goff entered Sunday's game having passed for 961 yards with eight touchdowns, no interceptions and a 118.6 passer rating in four games against the Bears since joining Detroit in 2021. On Sunday, he threw for 236 yards with two TDs, three interceptions and a 68.3 rating.
Ground battle: The marquee matchup in Sunday's game between the Bears' No. 2-ranked run defense versus the Lions' No. 4-ranked running game was a virtual draw.
After allowing 29, 46, 39, 54, 87 and 32 yards on the ground in their last six games, the Bears permitted the Lions to rush for 115 ands and two touchdowns.
Lions running back David Montgomery entered Week 11 leading all NFL rushers with an average of 83.5 yards per games. The former Bear was held to 76 yards on 12 carries but scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run with :29 remaining.
Several former Bears teammates caught up with Montgomery after the game.
"David's my brother, no matter where we are in life and our football careers. As much as it sucks seeing him win, I'm happy for him," Fields said. "He's a great person and a great player, so it was great seeing him."
News and notes: The Bears won the turnover battle 4-1. They are now 3-0 when they don't commit a turnover and 0-8 when they do … The Bears possessed the ball for 40:24, their highest time of possession since 2006 when they held the ball for 41:56 in a 34-31 Week 15 win over Tampa Bay … Rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson accounted for two takeaways, intercepting a Goff pass and forcing a fumble on a kickoff that was recovered by teammate DeMarquis Gates… Cairo Santos made all four of his field goal attempts Sunday from 31, 53, 40 and 39 yards. He has now connected on 19 of 20 field goals this season. That includes a career-high five from at least 50 yards without a miss, and he is now 9 of 10 from 50-yarders-plus the past two seasons after making 10 of 24 from that distance over his first eight NFL seasons.