Fields, Moore lead way as Bears deal Falcons' playoff hopes a big blow
CHICAGO (AP) — Justin Fields noticed the smoke in the air and the cigars on a table as he walked into the locker room. By then, the celebration was under way.
Fields threw for 268 yards with a touchdown pass and a rushing TD in what could be his final home game for Chicago, and Bears dealt Atlanta’s postseason hopes a big blow, beating the Falcons 37-17 on a snowy Sunday.
With little wiggle room to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017 — and coach Arthur Smith's future in question — the Falcons (7-9) got overwhelmed by Chicago (7-9).
The Bears grabbed a 21-7 halftime lead with Fields and Moore leading the way and rolled to their fourth win in five games.
“I will definitely remember this game for the rest of my life — just the atmosphere the fans, the chants, the snow,” said Fields, who grew up about 30 miles from Atlanta in Kennesaw, Georgia. “I don’t like snow as a quarterback but looking back on it it was great. But yeah, the spirit of the fans, the game, playing the hometown team, the hometown team where I’m from, beating them, so it was good.”
Fields said he was “surprised” by the cigar smoke. The turnaround the Bears have orchestrated this season might be a little more stunning considering the way their second season under general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus started.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned in September under circumstances that have not been fully explained, and running backs coach David Walker got fired leading up to the Week 9 loss at New Orleans, with Poles indicating it was for behavior. The Bears were 1-5 following a loss to Minnesota at Soldier Field in which Fields dislocated his right thumb. But things have changed since then.
“I know it's a couple wins and all that, but I'm just saying that just to get that vibe in there of, ‘Hey, we can do this,’ that was certainly exciting for the players in there," Eberflus said.
The Bears’ minuscule chances of making the playoffs ended Sunday night when Green Bay beat Minnesota.
Fans chanted Fields' name with his future as murky as ever. The Bears own the No. 1 pick in the draft thanks to their blockbuster trade with Carolina for Moore last March and could take Caleb Williams or Drake Maye.
If this was Fields' final game at Soldier Field as a Bear, he went out with one of his better all-around performances.
Fields completed 20 of 32 passes and ran for 45 yards. Though he was sacked three times, he also spun out of a few.
Fields threw a neat 7-yard touchdown pass to Moore on Chicago’s first drive and ran for a 9-yard score on the next possession to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Herbert set a season high for the second straight week after rushing for 112 yards last Sunday in a win over Arizona.
The Falcons struggled to get going on offense after setting a season high in scoring last week in a 29-10 win over Indianapolis. They finished with 307 yards, a week after gaining 406.
"You want to go out there and try to win, try to execute plays, and it sucks that sometimes we can’t pull through,” receiver Drake London said. “We’ve been trying for a while now and I mean we just got to keep on going and try to make the best of the situation right now.”
Taylor Heinicke, making his second straight start with Desmond Ridder benched, threw for 163 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. He scrambled 24 yards for a TD early in the fourth quarter to cut it to 27-17 and departed near the end of the game after his left ankle flared up.
Ridder threw a late pick.
Atlanta running back Bijan Robinson tied William Andrews’ team rookie record of 1,332 scrimmage yards, set in 1979. He had 75 yards rushing and 11 receiving.
Tyler Allgeier turned a screen pass into a 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter. But the usually reliable Younghoe Koo had a rough time in the windy conditions, missing two early field goals as Atlanta fell to 2-6 on the road.
Falcons: CB Mike Hughes exited with a concussion after he was hurt late in the third quarter defending a pass to a lunging Tyler Scott in the end zone that hit off the receiver’s hands. ... C Drew Dalman (ankle) was injured late in the game.
Bears: CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) left after he was hurt making a tackle on Robinson late in the second quarter.
Falcons: Visit New Orleans next weekend.
Bears: Visit Green Bay next weekend.
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