A strong performance by Justin Fields wasn't enough in a 31-28 loss to the Broncos Sunday at Soldier Field.
Fields established career highs with 335 yards, four touchdowns and a 132.7 passer rating in a game that the Bears led 28-7 late in the third quarter. But Denver staged a furious rally, scoring the game's final 24 points in a stunning 31-28 victory.
Will Lutz's 51-yard field goal provided the winning margin with 1:46 remaining.
The Bears followed by reaching their own 47, but Fields' pass intended for Cole Kmet over the middle was intercepted by safety Kareem Jackson with :32 remaining.
With the loss, the Bears fell to 0-4.
Fields connected on his first 16 passes—setting a Bears record for consecutive completions—and 23 of 24 through three quarters, with his only incompletion coming on a Hail Mary on the final play of the first half.
"We were in a rhythm," Fields said. "Luke [Getsy] was dialing it up. Guys were protecting up front and the receivers were getting open. So we were definitely in a rhythm. But at the end of the day, we lost the game, so it really doesn't matter."
Fields threw three TD passes on three straight possessions in the second quarter— two to Kmet and one to DJ Moore—to give the Bears a 21-7 halftime lead. Fields' fourth TD pass to Khalil Herbert, a 2-yarder, made it 28-7 late in the third quarter.
Moore led the Bears with eight receptions for 131 yards, Kmet caught seven passes for 85 yards and Darnell Mooney added four catches for 51 yards. The ground game was led by Herbert, who rushed for 103 yards on 18 carries.
"You saw timing," said coach Matt Eberflus. "You saw that the receivers were in-phase with everybody. It was just a really good flow to it, and you could feel that. You could feel that during the course of the day, and excited about the running game."
The Broncos rallied, however, to cut the deficit to 28-21 on Russell Wilson touchdown passes of four yards to Brandon Johnson late in the third quarter and 13 yards to Courtland Sutton with 9:36 remaining in the fourth period.
Denver then tied the score 28-28 with 6:55 to play when Fields was sacked by outside linebacker Nik Bonitto, who forced a fumble that was returned by outside linebacker Jonathan Cooper 35 yards for a touchdown.
The Bears were marching toward the go-ahead score, but Herbert was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Denver 18 with 2:52 left.
"If you get it, the game's over most likely," Fields said. "Got to make them use their timeouts. Probably getting past the two-minute warning, and then at least you're kicking a field goal with under a minute left. So I love the decision. It shows coach has trust in us to convert on that and in that situation. We've just got to execute."
The Broncos took a 7-0 lead on their first possession on Wilson's 18-yard touchdown pass to running back Jaleel McLaughlin on a perfectly designed screen pass. Wilson completed 6 of 7 passes for 59 yards on the drive. In the game, the nine-time Pro Bowler connected on 21 of 28 passes for 223 yards with three TDs, no turnovers and a 133.5 passer rating.
The Bears responded with a 9-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Fields' 29-yard touchdown pass to Moore on the first play of the second quarter. Moore made a sensational catch in the right corner of the end zone, leaping high to haul in the pass and barely getting both of his feet in-bounds.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Fields hit Kmet down the seam for a 22-yard TD to give the Bears a 14-7 lead with 11:44 left in the second quarter. The score came after Fields rolled to his left and completed a 24-yard pass to Moore.
Fields followed with a third straight TD pass, a 3-yarder to Kmet, to widen the margin to 21-7 with 6:08 remaining in the second quarter. Fields rolled to his right, and just before reaching the sideline, flipped the ball to Kmet in the end zone.
The Bears gained at least 20 yards on their first three snaps on the 5-play, 85-yard TD drive: Herbert's 24-yard run, Fields' 21-yard pass to Equanimeous St. Brown off a flea-flicker and Fields' 22-yard pass to Kmet.
At that point in the game, Fields had completed 12 of 12 passes for 185 yards with three TDs and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He eventually extended that streak to 16, breaking the Bears record of 15 that was set by Shane Matthews Dec. 10, 2000, versus the Patriots.
Fields continued to star in the second half, tossing a 2-yard TD pass to Herbert, widening the margin to 28-7 late in the third quarter. At that time in the game, he was 23 of 24 for 285 yards and four TDs.