After impressive performances in his previous two starts, Justin Fields raised his game to an even higher—and historic—level Sunday.
The Bears quarterback once again displayed his tantalizing dual-threat ability in a 35-32 loss to the Dolphins at Soldier Field. Fields rushed for 178 yards—including a highlight-reel 61-yard touchdown—on 15 carries and threw for three TDs while posting a stellar 106.7 passer rating.
"It's insane, it's nuts," marveled tight end Cole Kmet, who caught two TD passes from Fields. "When you see him run like that and then be able to execute in the pass game like he did, it's pretty special for sure."
Fields' 178 yards on the ground set an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a regular-season game, topping the 173 yards that Michael Vick compiled Dec. 1, 2002 in an overtime win over the Vikings. Fields also became the first player in league history to rush for at least 140 yards and throw three or more TD passes in a game since at least 1950.
"It's so fun watching him move around, make plays, give the entire offense opportunities to keep driving the ball," said receiver Chase Claypool, who caught two passes for 13 yards in his Bears debut. "It just felt right when he was just controlling the game."
Fields produced impact plays throughout Sunday's contest, but his most impressive effort came early in the second half after the Dolphins had scored their fourth touchdown of the game to increase their lead to 28-17.
On third-and-5 from the Bears' 39, Fields took a shotgun snap, stepped up in the pocket, pump-faked to his right and took off running. He eluded diving tackle attempts by linebacker Duke Riley and cornerback Keion Crossen and raced down the left sideline, picking up a late block from Darnell Mooney and cruising into the end zone for a 61-yard TD.
"I saw speed and his elusiveness and once he gets into the open field, he runs away from pretty much most people and he did it right there," said coach Matt Eberflus. "Mooney had a really nice, smart shield block on that particular play, and that was good to see."
Fields' 61-yard run was the longest by a Bears quarterback, eclipsing Vince Evans' 58-yarder Nov. 16, 1980, in a 10-6 loss to the Houston Oilers at Soldier Field.
"On that one touchdown, he just blew right past me," Kmet said. "I just figured 'just get out of his way and let him do his thing.'"
"On that long touchdown run, I thought he was going to get tackled," said running back Khalil Herbert. "So I'm running right beside him and he just breaks [loose] and I'm like, 'Wow, let me try to see if I can go catch him.' He's just special."
Fields accounted for the Bears' 10 longest plays from scrimmage Sunday with runs of 61, 17, 17, 14, 13 and 12 yards and passes of 18, 16, 12 and 12 yards. He was also responsible for eight of his team's 10 third-down conversions, highlighted by runs of 61 yards for a TD on third-and-5, 14 yards on third-and-1 and 12 yards on third-and-8, as well as passes of 16 yards for a TD on third-and-8 and 10 yards on third-and-10.
"I think I'm just growing and getting better each and every week," Fields said. "My main goal right now is just to continue to do that; continue to trend up, and each and every day I practice, just keep getting better and better. I mean, that's really all you can do."
Fields has now accounted for nine of the offense's 11 touchdowns in the Bears' last three games after the unit mustered only nine TDs in its first six contests of the season.
In his previous two starts before Sunday, Fields completed 30 of 43 passes for 330 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a 105.8 passer rating while also rushing for 142 yards and two TDs on 22 carries. Last Sunday in Dallas, he established career highs with a 73.9 completion percentage (17 of 23) and a 120.0 passer rating while also rushing for 60 yards on eight carries.
The former Ohio State star produced three TDs versus the Cowboys for the first time in his NFL career and topped that feat with four Sunday.
"It's special," Eberflus said. "We are building our football team. We have a young football team. We are building upon that, and the centerpiece of that is the quarterback. That's the way it is in the NFL.
"Talk about toughness and grit and the ability to persevere through a lot of different things. Obviously start of the season is feeling his way, and now the last three games he's really taken off. We are excited about that as a group and we are excited about that for the Chicago Bears and the franchise."