‘That’s my fault.’ How Justin Fields’ mental error after David Montgomery’s fumble symbolized the Chicago Bears’ blowout loss.


Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery had little interest in a deep dive into his third-quarter fumble Sunday.

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

Quarterback Justin Fields was similarly matter-of-fact in describing his reaction once the football was on the turf, then in the possession of Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons.

Fields, during a split-second concentration lapse, hurdled Parsons rather than touching him — which allowed the Cowboys star to get back to his feet and rumble 36 yards for a pivotal touchdown.

“That’s my fault for just hopping over him,” Fields said. “I should have tagged him. But I can’t tell you the last time I made a tackle. I just have to be (more) aware in that situation.”

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

“Coach has been hounding on me about my superpower and just running to the ball regardless of if you make the play or don’t,” Parsons said. “You just never know what happens on the football field.”

In a wild game with a handful of Texas-sized twists, that collective breakdown by two of the Bears offensive leaders proved costly and was part of a miscue-filled third-quarter stretch that veered the Bears into a 49-29 loss.

“We’ve showed multiple times during the course of our situations tape that we show every Friday that you have to touch guys down,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. “That’s part of pro football. That was big.”

Simple mistakes. Big ramifications. That’s how Sunday’s loss must be filed away at Halas Hall. It left Eberflus delivering a straightforward message after his team’s fifth defeat in seven games.

“I told our players, ‘Guys, we’re going to look at the tape and we’re going to see it,’” Eberflus said. “There’s no mystery here. It’s about good fundamentals and technique. And you have to do that down in and down out.”

For the Bears, the video review of Sunday’s stumbles likely will prove twice as painful as the loss itself, a forced reliving of all of their breakdowns — from missed tackles to poor gap control to dropped passes to head-scratching coaching decisions.

Yes, Montgomery’s fumble plus Fields’ mental error were notable blunders that contributed to the disappointing performance. But the log of such moments was pretty darn lengthy.

The Bears defense, for example, was a hot mess from the beginning, allowing touchdowns on the Cowboys’ first four possessions and surrendering 442 total yards in just 57 plays (7.8 yards per play). Quarterback Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score.

The Cowboys converted 9 of 11 third-down attempts, none bigger than a third-and-1 with 10 minutes, 46 seconds remaining. Running back Tony Pollard eluded Eddie Jackson and Roquan Smith in the backfield, then bounced a power run outside to the left, cutting between Al-Quadin Muhammad and Nick Morrow for a back-breaking 56-yard touchdown and a 20-point lead.

“We had a pressure on there for that particular run,” Eberflus said. “And the guys who are away from the pressure have to hammer the ball back to the pressure. But the ball kept getting outside.”

Safety Jaquan Brisker agreed Pollard’s long touchdown run was one of a handful of gut punches that staggered the Bears.

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

By afternoon’s end, the Bears unraveling became a big arrow pointing to an obvious but uncomfortable conclusion: This team just isn’t there yet, still not equipped to compete regularly with the NFL’s better teams.

Six days after an attention-grabbing 19-point road win over the New England Patriots, Sunday’s blowout loss offered another bit of evidence that this squad lacks enough talent, experience and consistency to make a meaningful run in 2022. These Bears are too error-prone. The roster has too many holes.

So again the analysis must go beyond the game results and include a deeper assessment of where the Bears may be making meaningful growth for the future.

To that end, Sunday’s 371-yard, 29-point output against a feisty Cowboys defense offered encouragement. As the owners of the league’s most productive rushing attack, the Bears churned out their third consecutive performance with at least 200 yards on the ground, rolling up 240.

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

In a lot of ways, that all felt like a step.

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

Added Fields: “The offense today played well. Of course there’s always room to grow and get better. But we put up 29 points. I think that was the most points (the Cowboys) let up this year.”

Even within discouraging losses, the Bears will continue hunting for silver linings and evidence of progress. They also must continue gaining experience in measuring-stick games against quality opponents.

Sunday wrapped up an eventful, emotion-filled seven-day stretch for the Bears that included that energizing win in New England, the midweek trade of captain Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles and the most lopsided loss of the season.

With so much for his team to absorb and process, Eberflus wanted his players to understand Sunday’s outing should be reviewed independent of anything that came before it or may come after.

“Every performance stands alone by itself,” Eberflus said. “When you ride the wave of momentum, it can become a tricky thing for a young football team. So you have to look at every performance for what it is.”

Sunday’s performance was at times exciting but filled with bothersome and untimely slip-ups.



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