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Ranking Bears' top 10 plays from first half of season

NFL Media released its top 10 Bears plays from the first half of the season Thursday (see above). I've created my own list, and there are several differences.

First, a few observations:

• There are only four plays in both of our top 10s and just one in the same spot: We both agree that Justin Fields' spectacular 22-yard touchdown run against the 49ers was the Bears' top play of the first half of the season.

• With the season expanding from 16 to 17 games this year, it isn't clear where to spilt the season in half. After eight contests? After nine? At halftime of the eighth game? I included two plays from Monday night's loss to the Steelers; NFL Media evidently constructed its list before that game.

• I placed an emphasis on game-changing plays. For example, eight of my top 10 plays are either touchdowns or takeaways, and two are both. I also considered the context of the play. For instance, David Montgomery's 41-yard run in the season opener against the Rams was impressive, but the drive resulted in a turnover and the Bears lost the game by a considerable margin (34-14).

Without further ado, here are my top 10 Bears plays from the first half of the season:

(1) Fields' highlight-reel TD run

The rookie quarterback showed why the Bears were so excited about trading up in the first round of the draft to land him at No. 11 with a dazzling 22-yard touchdown scramble Oct. 31 against the 49ers that electrified the Soldier Field crowd.

On fourth-and-1, Fields had a defender in his face as soon as he dropped back to pass. But he broke a tackle in the pocket, reversed field to his left and eluded four more defenders en route to the end zone. The former Ohio State star conceded after the game that it was a signature moment of his young career.

NFL Media rank: No. 1

(2) Fields connects with James

In what has to be one of the top touchdown throws and catches in the NFL this season, Fields sprinted to his left and rifled an 8-yard TD pass to diving tight end Jesse James in the corner of the end zone Oct. 31 against the 49ers, just inches out of the reach of cornerback Josh Norman.

NFL Media rank: Not ranked

(3) Fields caps comeback

Fields gave the Bears a 27-26 lead over the Steelers Monday night with a perfectly thrown 16-yard TD pass to Darnell Mooney in the left corner of the end zone with just 1:46 remaining. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh rallied for a 29-27 win on Chris Boswell's 40-yard field goal with :26 to play.

NFL Media rank: Not ranked

(4) Smith takes it to the house

Roquan Smith intercepted the Bengals' Joe Burrow in the Bears' home opener Sept. 19 and returned it 53 yards for the linebacker's first NFL touchdown. Smith shook off a tackle attempt by running back Joe Mixon and dashed down the left sideline. It was the first of three straight Burrow passes the Bears intercepted.

NFL Media rank: No. 2

(5) Fields connects with Horsted

The rookie quarterback's first NFL TD pass was a memorable one. Facing the Raiders Oct. 10 in Las Vegas, Fields escaped the pocket, rolled to his right and fired the ball into the end zone to tight end Jesper Horsted, who caught the 2-yard TD pass with a defender draped all over him.

NFL Media rank: Not ranked

(6) A special TD at a critical time

Two of the Bears' top special teams players over the past few years teamed up Monday night in Pittsburgh as Joel Iyiegbuniwe forced the Steelers' Ray-Ray McCloud to fumble a punt return and DeAndre Houston-Carson scooped up the loose ball and returned it 25 yards for a TD that drew the Bears to within 23-20.

NFL Media rank: Not ranked

(7) Quinn and Mack generate takeaway

Robert Quinn burst off the edge for a strip/sack of Lions quarterback Jared Goff Oct. 3 at Soldier Field, and fellow outside linebacker Khalil Mack recovered the fumble.

NFL Media rank: No. 3

(8) Fields hits Graham down the middle

Bears coach Matt Nagy called Fields' 28-yard completion to tight end Jimmy Graham down the seam Monday night in Pittsburgh "probably a top-three throw in the NFL this season" given the pressure the rookie quarterback faced on the play and the accuracy and timing of the throw.

NFL Media rank: Not ranked

(9) Jackson starts a trend

Eddie Jackson generated the first of four straight takeaways in a Week 2 win over the Bengals when he stripped the ball from receiver Tee Higgins after a 14-yard reception and fellow safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. returned the fumble 13 yards.

NFL Media rank: No. 4

(10) Fields shows accuracy, big-play ability

Fields rainbowed a season-long 64-yard completion to Mooney Oct. 3 against the Lions at Soldier Field, hitting the speedy receiver in stride from deep in Bears' territory.

NFL Media rank: No. 7

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