CHICAGO (AP) — A big season for Justin Fields got off to a rough start Sunday.
At least he had plenty of company.
Fields lost a fumble and threw an interception as the Chicago Bears fell apart in the second half of an ugly 38-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The dynamic quarterback was sacked four times and noticeably outplayed by Jordan Love, who was making his second career start for Green Bay.
“I think kind of the moral of the story is that we shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” Fields said. ”Pre-snap penalties, false starts, holdings, and then when we put ourselves in third-and-longs, third-and-10, third-and-15s, it’s hard to convert on that for an NFL offense. So I think if we just clean that up, keep getting better every day, then we’ll be fine.”
Looking for more growth from Fields, the Bears invested in their offensive line and passing targets in the offseason. The 24-year-old Fields rushed for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns last year in his second season with the team, but he threw for just 2,242 yards and 17 TDs with 11 interceptions.
At least in Week 1, it was hard to tell any difference — especially in the second half.
“We have a lot of room to improve, a lot of room to grow,” Fields said. “I think that’s what we’re going to do.”
Fields accounted for 275 of Chicago’s 311 yards, but his interception was returned 37 yards by Quay Walker for a touchdown with 12:36 left. He also lost a fumble with Chicago trailing 24-6 in the third quarter.
DJ Moore had just two receptions for 25 yards in his first game since he was acquired in a March trade that sent the No. 1 overall draft pick to Carolina. Moore is expected to serve as a No. 1 receiver for Fields after he had three seasons with at least 1,150 yards with the Panthers.
“The defense was kind of pushed over to me,” Moore said. “So it was hard to see me. I understand that. So I’ve just got to learn from it.”
Stepping into a more prominent role after David Montgomery signed with Detroit in free agency, Khalil Herbert had nine carries for 27 yards. Take out Fields’ production on the ground and Chicago finished with 63 yards rushing on 20 attempts.
Chicago went 3 for 13 on third down, compared to 9 for 16 for Love and Green Bay. The Bears also finished with seven penalties for 61 yards, hurting their ability to put together long drives.
“We put ourselves behind on offense a bunch of times and I think that’s why the third downs were not what we expected them to be,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “We’ve got to get that cleaned up because that’s something you can improve on and being disciplined and not having those penalties.”
The trouble started early on. Chicago got the ball at its 12 after DeMarquis Gates was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the opening kickoff. The Bears then drove to their 40, but tight end Cole Kmet was stuffed on a curious play call on third-and-1 and Fields was stopped for no gain on fourth down.
The Packers took over and Love capped an 11-play drive with an 8-yard TD pass to Romeo Doubs with 6:08 left in the first quarter.
It was that kind of day for Chicago. By the time the final seconds ticked off at Soldier Field, most of an announced crowd of 62,456 had already headed for the exits.
“This is a big game just because of Bears-Packers, so it’s a big game for us, but at the end of the day it’s one of 17,” Kmet said. “It hurts. We didn’t expect this to happen. We’ve got to be able to regroup.”
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