ATLANTA, Ga. - Bears electrifying quarterback Justin Fields continued to produce highlight-reel plays in Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
On a fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a game-tying touchdown, Fields displayed his sensational athleticism, elusiveness and arm strength.
First, he eluded pressure, escaped the pocket and rifled a frozen rope down the right sideline to David Montgomery for a 32-yard gain. Three plays later, on third-and-12, Fields did an even better job of avoiding the rush before completing a 14-yard pass to Equanimeous St. Brown.
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According to Next Gen Stats, Fields scrambled 33.2 yards before throwing the ball, the most on a third-down conversion this season. His time to throw of 10.98 seconds was the longest on a third-down conversion over the last six years.
The pass to St. Brown came three plays after the Bears had faced first-and-20 following a holding penalty on receiver Byron Pringle. It sustained a drive that resulted in Montgomery's 2-yard TD run.
"[Fields] did some amazing things again," said center Sam Mustipher. "The guy is unbelievable; just the way he's able to manipulate the pocket, set up blocks for us when he does and scrambles. And then to have the vision and awareness to get the ball down the field to move the chains in those situations where we got behind the sticks is crazy. We're very fortunate to have a quarterback like that."
Fields rushed for 85 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries and completed 14 of 21 passes for 153 yards with one TD, one interception and an 84.0 passer rating. In the process, he became only the second NFL player in the Super Bowl era to record at least one TD run and one TD pass in five straight games, joining Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray in 2020.
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Take two: After failing to generate any takeaways in back-to-back games for the first time this season, the Bears produced two in Sunday's loss.
The first takeaway came on special teams late in the first quarter when DeAndre Houston-Carson forced Avery Williams to fumble on a punt return, and Jack Sanborn recovered at the Falcons' 41. Williams was initially ruled down by contact, but the call was reversed following a replay review after coach Matt Eberflus challenged the play.
Asked if he thought it was a fumble, Houston-Carson said: "I wasn't really sure. They weren't showing it [on the replay board]. I was just running to the ball and just trying to tackle him and trying to make a play."
In the second quarter, Jaquan Brisker punched the ball away from Cordarrelle Patterson from behind at the end of a 19-yard run, and Jaylon Johnson scooped up the fumble, returning it 17 yards to the Atlanta 29.
"Just looking at past film, he was running with the ball very loose and then when he cut back, I just went to go chase and I ended up punching it out," Brisker said. "It was a big boost because the offense ended up scoring."
The Bears converted the takeaway into Fields' 4-yard TD run, giving them 10 points in a 3:11 span and a 17-7 lead with 4:31 left in the first half.
Record-setter: Despite falling behind by 10 points, the Falcons immediately swung the momentum back in their direction when Patterson returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for a TD, closing the gap to 17-14.
It was Patterson's ninth career kickoff return touchdown, breaking a tie with Leon Washington and Joshua Cribbs for the most in NFL history.
"It changed the game," Brisker said. "The ball was probably going to be in [quarterback Marcus] Mariota's hands to pass. Our defense was playing good. Once he scored, it's 17-14 and they made it back [into] a game."
Streak ends: After making a 41-yard field goal on the Bears' opening possession, Cairo Santos came up inches short on a 56-yard attempt-the ball barely grazed the bottom of the crossbar-with 1:10 left in the first half.
The miss snapped Santos' streak of 21 straight field goals dating back to last season.
"The range today was the 40-yard line, so 58 I felt really good from in warmups," Santos said. "I knew I had it within my range. [I] just hit it too wobbly; the ball lost the power."
Interestingly, Santos told reporters that every team selects three "K" footballs it wants to use before each game, ranking them 1-2-3. The Bears' top ball was taken out of play after Patterson returned it for his record-breaking touchdown so it could be sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"The frustrating part is I think they took our best 'K' ball away because of CP's touchdown," Santos said. "I don't know what kind of 'K' ball we used on our 56. It's going to the Hall of Fame, so I had to kick a 'K' ball that wasn't our best ball. I didn't know that going into that. We go through it before the game and then select 1-2-3. The refs come and mark it. They always do a good job throwing in the best balls. The refs know the process, too, so they look for what's your best ball."
Santos had an even longer streak end on an even longer attempt last year; he had made a Bears-record 40 straight field goals before missing a 65-yarder as time expired in a 29-27 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh.