Justin Fields’ mental lapse symbolizes the loss of the Chicago Bears

ARLINGTON, Texas — Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery wasn’t too interested in taking a deep dive in the third quarter Sunday.

“I dropped the ball,” Montgomery said to a somber visitor’s locker room at AT&T Stadium.

Defensive back Justin Fields was similarly nonchalant in describing his reaction when the ball ended up on the turf and then in the possession of Dallas Cowboys linebacker Mickey Parsons.

Fields, in a split-second lapse in concentration, overcame Parsons rather than touch him, allowing the Cowboys star to get back to his feet and run 36 yards for the key touchdown.

“It’s my fault that I just jumped over him,” Fields said. “I had to tag him. But I can’t tell you the last time I tackled. I just have to be (more) aware of this situation.”

Parsons admitted he didn’t know what to do at first until he heard his teammates urging him to get up and go.

“Coach has been pushing me about my super ability and just running to the ball whether you’re playing or not,” Parsons said. “You just never know what’s going to happen on the football field.”

In a wild game with multiple turnovers the size of Texas, that collective breakdown by the Bears’ two offensive leaders proved costly and was part of a frenzied third quarter that saw the Bears fall 49-29.

“We’ve shown several times in our situational tapes that we show every Friday that you have to touch guys,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. “It’s part of professional football. It was great.”

Simple mistakes. Big consequences. Thus, Sunday’s defeat should be recorded at Halas Hall. That left Eberfluss with a direct message after his team’s fifth loss in seven games.

“I told our players, ‘Guys, we’re going to watch the tape and see it,'” Eberfluss said. “There is no mystery here. It’s about good fundamentals and technique. And you have to do it down and down.”

For the Bears, the video review of Sunday’s stumbles will likely be twice as painful as the loss itself, having to relive all of their failures — from missed tackles to poor gap control, dropped passes to puzzling coaching decisions.

Yes, Montgomery’s miscue and Fields’ mental error were notable misses that contributed to the upset. But the log of such moments was damn long.

For example, the Bears’ defense was terrible from the start, allowing a touchdown on the Cowboys’ first four possessions and giving up 442 yards on just 57 plays (7.8 yards per game). Quarterback Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score.

The Cowboys went 9 of 11 on third down attempts, none beyond third and 1 with 10 minutes, 46 seconds left. Running back Tony Pollard eluded Eddie Jackson and Roquan Smith in the backfield, then bounced off a power run to the left, crossing Al-Quadin Muhammad and Nick Morrow for a 56-yard touchdown and a 20-point lead.

“We were under pressure for that particular run,” Eberfluss said. “And the guys who are away from pressure have to get the ball back under pressure. But the ball kept going out.”

Safety Jaquan Brisker agreed that Pollard’s long touchdown run was one of the few touchdowns that hit the Bears.

“It wasn’t our best football,” Brisker said. “We have to play a cleaner ball. We have to trust ourselves and our teammates. And now we have to look in the mirror and play Chicago Bear defense.”

Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) celebrates his touchdown in the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

By the end of the day, the Bears’ denouement turned into a big arrow pointing to an obvious but uncomfortable conclusion: This team just isn’t there yet, it’s still not built to compete regularly with the NFL’s best teams.

Six days after an attention-grabbing 19-point road win over the New England Patriots, Sunday’s loss was further evidence that this team lacks the talent, experience and consistency to make a big play in 2022. These bears are too fallible. prone to There are too many holes in the list.

So again, the analysis needs to go beyond the results of the game and include a deeper assessment of where the Bears can significantly improve in the future.

To that end, Sunday’s performance of 371 yards and 29 points against a stout Cowboys defense was encouraging. Owning the league’s top rushing attack, the Bears had their third straight game with at least 200 yards on the ground, racking up 240.

Fields posted a season-best 120.0 passer rating, completing 17 of 23 for 151 yards and two touchdowns, adding 60 yards rushing and an early 3-yard run.

In many ways, it all felt like a step.

“It’s a positive thing for the guys,” Eberfluss said. “I think the guys are starting to really joke around. You can see that we have implemented some things that really increase the skill level of our players. I think it’s starting to open up some things.”

Added Fields: “The offense played well today. Of course, there is always room to grow and improve. But we scored 29 points. I think that was the most points the (Cowboys) had this year.”

Even with the losses, the bears will continue to look for silver linings and evidence of progress. They should also continue to gain experience in games with a measuring stick against quality opponents.

Sunday marked the end of an eventful, emotional seven-day stretch for the Bears that included a blowout win at New England, the midweek trade of captain Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles and the most lopsided loss of the season.

Eberfluss wanted his players to understand that Sunday’s tour had to be reviewed regardless of what came before it or could come after, because his team had a lot to absorb and process.

“Every play is different,” Eberfluss said. “When you’re riding a wave of momentum, it can be a difficult thing for a young football team. That’s why you need to look at each performance as it is.”

Sunday’s performance was exciting at times, but filled with annoying and untimely lapses.

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