There are no moral victories in the NFL. In a loss as gut wrenching as the one the Bears suffered against the Steelers on Monday Night Football, it’s even harder to find a silver lining. But as the Bears’ playoff hopes continue to dwindle, the focus increasingly hones in on Justin Fields’ development. And in that regard the Bears should be very happy with what they saw.
Down six points with under three minutes to play, Fields made some of his best throws of the night to manufacture a go-ahead touchdown drive.
“My mindset was just, it’s time, we’re here,” Fields said. “You can either be the guy who always gets put in that position and doesn’t show up, or you can be the guy who does show up in the big moments. That’s what my mindset was and I was calm and just focused on showing up.”
Fields more than showed up. He completed 3-5 passes for 64 yards, including a perfect 39-yard bomb to Allen Robinson, rushed twice for 11 yards, and capped everything off with a strike to Darnell Mooney for the score. But when discussing the 66 second touchdown drive, Fields’ teammates didn’t mention his playmaking abilities. They pointed to his demeanor and leadership in the huddle.
“He kept us calm,” said Darnell Mooney. “He was able to keep us upbeat and he let us know that we can still score, and we’re going to win the game, and just keep us focused.
“Just before we got out there, they kicked the field goal, and we were all happy and smiling that it was on us. That we can go out there and make a play, get a touchdown and just try to win the game. It was all smiles and just good, positive actions out there.”
That kind of influence on his teammates, and confidence in himself was not lost on his head coach either.
“He had a smile on his face like it was his time,” said Matt Nagy. “When you see that, the confidence it gives you as a coach when you see that, it was almost like he was hoping that this was going to be the situation. And for him to follow through with that and make those plays that he made, it was a really, really good feeling on that sideline.
“When you talk about the growth for him, the offense and just the team as a whole, that’s a moment. That’s a moment.”
Of course the moment feels a bit hollow since it came in a loss. But looking towards the future, it’s drives like this that should give the Bears confidence they could have a legit franchise quarterback for the first time in a long time.