Just before the final game of the Chicago Bears’ 19-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Justin Fields heard a teammate make the suggestion.
He doesn’t know who said it, maybe an offensive lineman. But the Bears quarterback immediately agreed.
“Oh, yeah, everybody has to do it,” Fields told his teammates.
So after Fields took the snap of center Sam Mustipher and knelt to miss time, he got up, kicked the ball behind him and ran 20 yards to the end zone of SoldierField.
With left tackle Braxton Jones and tight end Cole Kmet on his tail, Fields dove headfirst into the rain-soaked grass, spreading his arms in a Superman pose, a giant grin from under his helmet, a throw of water gushing out from under him.
The Slip ‘N Slide celebration was the perfect capping of a wildly wet, come-from-behind win in which the Bears scored 19 second-half points to upset the 49ers, who last season went to the game NFC Championship.
“It was an instant moment,” Fields said.
It was one of the few highlights for Fields, which helped spark the rally after a first half in which the offense scored 68 yards and Fields had a 2.8 passer rating.
“Tough luge in the first half,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “We were trying to find our way. And then we found our way into the two-minute drive (at the end of the first half). They really picked up the pace from there.
Fields led three consecutive touchdowns in the second half and finished with 121 passing yards, two touchdowns, one interception, an 85.7 rating and 28 rushing yards.
The turning point came late in the third quarter on a third-and-10 play and the 49ers held a 10-0 lead.
Fields escaped a sack attempt by diving defensive tackle Arik Armstead and ran to the left of defensive end Charles Omenihu. As Fields looked up, wide receiver Dante Pettis was wide open on the right side of the field. Fields threw a pass to make it easy to catch.
“I just walked a deep road in the middle,” Pettis said. “I was supposed to sit there in the area, and I escaped because there was no one there and I turned around and saw Justin running the other way. I looked around me and there was no one next to me. … All of a sudden, I see him setting up throwing it towards me, and I was like, ‘Okay, let’s go.’
“The ball felt like it was in the air forever. I was just waiting there, caught it like a punt and just took off.
Pettis was 16.2 yards clear of the closest defenseman when he caught him, according to NFL NextGen stats, third on a touchdown pass in the last three seasons.
Pettis ran 30 yards to the end zone, getting help from wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown’s block for a 51-yard touchdown.
“It was the play that changed the momentum of the whole game,” Fields said. “Once that game happened, it started everything else.”
With the help of two 49ers penalties, the Bears offense found a rhythm in the next practice to set up Fields’ 18-yard touchdown pass to St. Brown.
St. Brown said the play was designed to go fullback Khari Blasingame, but Fields found St. Brown weaving in the end zone between two defenders.
Fields remained patient with a pass thrower rushing towards him and threw the pass in stride to St. Brown, who whipped the ball against the wall behind the end zone to celebrate the Bears taking a 13-10 lead .
“I felt the defenders go down slowly and then I saw EQ,” Fields said. “He took a good angle with that safety right there, and I just hit him for the touchdown. And of course the O line did a great job of protecting on this play. So proud of these guys.
The Bears capitalized on Eddie Jackson’s interception with a 21-yard touchdown on their next series, capped by running back Khalil Herbert’s 3-yard score for the 19-10 result.
The wet pitch conditions were fun for the post-game celebration, but they made life difficult for Fields, who praised Mustipher for the way he handled the snaps.
Knowing that Sunday would be rainy, Fields practiced wetball drills with gloves earlier in the week, then wore them on game day. He tried a series without gloves but said it was safer to play with them. But the rain still had an impact.
“It’s just inconsistent,” Fields said. “So you have full control on some throws, and then on some throws the ground is so wet you don’t have as much grip. So it just differs every game.”
There were some tough moments in the first half, including when 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga jumped past Fields’ pass to Darnell Mooney in the first quarter. But Fields said he was happy that “the team as a whole fought through adversity throughout the game”.
In particular, the return was a boost for the offense, which has been scrutinized outside of Halas Hall for months to see if enough talent surrounds Fields.
St. Brown said the Bears didn’t buy into that conversation.
“We trained our whole lives for this,” he said. “It’s our job. It’s our job to play and catch the ball. Wherever the doubt comes from, we don’t mind. We know what we can do.
“I knew we were resilient as a team. In the media, there were many doubts. But we knew what we had to do. We knew we were going to win the game. This is not at all a surprise to us. »