Bears’ Justin Fields sets regular-season rush for QB

Bears’ Justin Fields sets regular-season rush for QB

CHICAGO — Justin Fields continued to make his case as the best quarterback in the 2021 draft class after reaching historic heights during the Chicago contest 35-32 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The Bears the quarterback set multiple NFL and franchise records on Sunday. His 178 yards are the most by a quarterback in a regular season game in the Super Bowl era, surpassing the previous mark set by former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick (173) in 2002.

Fields was 3 yards short of breaking the all-time rushing record set by former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick (181 yards) in the 2012 divisional playoffs.

Fields also became the Bears’ single-game franchise rushing record with 127 yards set by former Chicago quarterback Bobby Douglass in 1972.

“I think I’m just growing and getting better every week,” said Fields, who revealed he had broken the Bears’ single-game quarterback record when it was shown on the video board at Soldier Field. “My main goal right now is just to keep doing that. Keep trending, and every day that I practice, just get better and better. That’s really all you can do.”

Despite the loss, Fields turned in one of the best performances of his career. The second-year quarterback completed 17 of 28 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns and finished with the third-highest passer rating of his career (106.7), his second straight game with a passer rating above 100. Fields also contributed a rushing touchdown .

“It’s crazy,” Chicago End Cole Serf he said. “It’s crazy. When you see him run like that and then he can execute in the passing game like he did, it’s pretty special, for sure.”

The highlight of the game came on a 61-yard scramble that ended with Fields in the end zone early in the third quarter. On third-and-5 from Chicago’s 39-yard line, Fields dropped back to pass and initially looked to connect with the wide receiver Darnell Mooney.

“We expected a man (coverage) on that play,” Fields said. “They went man-to-man and on the snap, they went into the zone. I looked for Moon, stepped into the pocket looking for Moon, and just as I was about to throw it to him, he turned so I kind of had to pull the ball back and in that moment instincts took over.”

The longest rush of Fields’ career was the second-longest TD run by a quarterback this season. The longest was Lamar Jackson’s 79-yard touchdown run in Week 2, which also came against the Dolphins’ defense.

Miami entered Week 9 with the league’s sixth-best run defense, but struggled to contain quarterbacks. Jackson rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on Sept. 18. On Sunday, the Dolphins had no answer for Fields, especially on third down when he used his legs to keep the game alive.

Fields had seven carries for 111 yards and a touchdown on third down and converted six first downs.

“He’s as quick as any running back at the skill position,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “Like he’s really, really fast and can cut and break tackles. There’s a lot of running backs. I think this one is especially elite and skilled at that.”

Chicago’s offense has averaged 31.3 points per game over the past three weeks after posting 15.5 points per game in Weeks 1-6. The added element of Fields as a runner helped the Bears maintain their status as the league’s leading rusher (195.4 yards per game). That trend began in earnest against New England, when the designed guards helped Chicago score the most points (33 points) during the Fields era.

Against the Dolphins, Fields’ ability to move (110 yards, a touchdown) broke through Miami’s defense.

“That was a big highlight of the game, just knowing how he really helped change the complexion of the offense over the last few weeks,” McDaniel said.

Fields continues to show week-to-week improvement after an up-and-down start to the season. Even in the loss, Bears coach Matt Eberflus called Fields’ performance a “big step” for the quarterback and the direction the franchise is headed.

“I think he’s special,” Eberflus said. “I think we’re building our football team. Like I said, we have a young football team. We’re building on that. And the center of that is the quarterback. That’s how it is in the NFL. We talk about toughness and grit and the ability to persevere through a lot of different things .

“Obviously, the beginning of the season is his way, and now in the last three games he’s really taken it off. And we’re excited about that as a group and we’re excited about that for the Chicago Bears and the franchise.”

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