Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) is sacked during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) is sacked during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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DETROIT (AP) — Chicago Bears coach Matt Eberflus considered taking Justin Fields out of Sunday’s lopsided loss to the Detroit Lions.

In the end, though, he decided to let his young quarterback do what he wanted to do — stay in the game.

“If we’re playing a football game, I want to be on the field with my teammates,” Fields said after the 41-10 loss. “I know they are fighting hard for me on every play, and I want them to know I’m fighting just as hard for them.”

The Bears scored on their first two possessions, thanks to 105 yards rushing by Fields, and led 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The final 45 minutes were a disaster. Fields completed only five passes, was intercepted, lost a fumble, and was sacked five times over the last three quarters as Detroit outscored Chicago 34-0. He finished 7 of 21 for 75 yards, along with his 132 yards rushing, and the Lions totaled seven sacks.

“That all starts with me,” he said. “I think there were a lot of plays where I tried to make something out of nothing and ended up taking a sack.”

Fields took a pounding all day — rushing 10 times to go along with the season-most seven sacks and numerous hits as he released the ball. At one point in the second quarter, he went into the medical tent for treatment on a sore hip, but Eberflus left him out there even after things got uglier in the fourth quarter.

“We discussed making a change before every series late in the game, but we understood Justin needs game experience,” the Bears coach said. “There’s no substitute for that. He wanted to play and we wanted him to get some work on our two-minute offense late in the end.”

In two games against the Lions this season, Fields has shown why the Bears are so high on his future. He’s rushed for 279 yards and two touchdowns and thrown for three more.

The flaws, though, have been just as obvious. He only completed 46.3% of his passes (19 of 41) in those two games while taking 10 sacks and turning the ball over three times.

“I’m not the type of player who is going to let my mistakes kill me on the inside,” Fields said. “I struggled today, but I have to learn from what happened and get better for next week’s game. Then I’m going to work all summer to be better for next season.

“I’ve been through tough times before, and my only response is to just keep working.”

Fields didn’t get much help against the Lions, especially after guards Teven Jenkins (neck) and Michael Schofield III (knee) were forced out of the game. That allowed defensive tackles Isaiah Buggs and Alim McNeill to push the pocket back into Fields’ face, with rookies Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston coming at him from the outside.

“They got back there pretty quickly a few times,” Fields said. “We have to be better up front, and everyone knows that.”

Fields had a chance to help his stat line at the end of the first half, but it didn't work out. After a Lions field goal put them ahead 24-10, Velus Jones Jr. fielded the kickoff 8 yards deep in his end zone and returned it 63 yards to the Detroit 45.

“We told Velus we wanted him to bring it out, and we’d see what happened from there,” Eberflus said. “With seven seconds left and no timeouts, we wanted to get enough yards for a field goal.”

The Lions dropped all 11 defenders into coverage — Eberflus said the Bears would have done the same thing — and Fields threw a short pass that Hutchinson easily intercepted.

“I have no idea what I was trying to do there,” Fields said. “I should have just thrown it away.”


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