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Justin Fields Flashes Potential as Bears Beat Titans 27-24 in Final Preseason Game

Blake SchusterContributor IAugust 29, 2021

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Chicago Bears rookie Justin Fields had just one half of football to make his final argument for starting Week 1. It turns out he only needed one play. 

The Bears defeated the Tennessee Titans 27-24 in their preseason finale at Nissan Stadium on Saturday. It was also the last chance Chicago fans had to see their quarterback of the future show off his skill set until head coach Matt Nagy decides he's ready to replace Andy Dalton as QB1.

Fields' exit carried an exclamation point, running a solid two-minute drill at the end of the first half before firing a perfect pass on the move to tight end Jesper Horsted in traffic for a touchdown. 

Chicago Bears @ChicagoBears

Great pass. Great catch. 👌<a href="https://twitter.com/justnfields?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@justnfields</a> hits <a href="https://twitter.com/JHorsted?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JHorsted</a> for 6!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHIvsTEN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CHIvsTEN</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DaBears?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DaBears</a> <a href="https://t.co/MsdGkK8fMA">pic.twitter.com/MsdGkK8fMA</a>

The Bears brass has been adamant about starting Dalton to begin the season, even as Fields' play continues to force some second-guessing among fans and analysts. With his final preseason act on Saturday, it was clear there wasn't much more the Ohio State product could do to make his case. 

Notable Performers

Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears: 7-of-10 passing, 54 yards, one touchdown, one sack

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Jesper Horsted, TE, Chicago Bears: five catches, 104 yards, three touchdowns

Matt Barkley, QB, Tennessee Titans: 7-of-15 passing, 126 yards, one interception 

Khari Blasingame, FB, Tennessee Titans: two carries, six rushing yards, two catches, 56 receiving yards

Fields Shines In Patchwork Offense

The next time Fields enters the huddle on game day, his personnel should look much different than it did on Saturday night. 

Among the Bears skill players held out of action in the preseason finale were Allen Robinson II, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, Cole Kmet, Jimmy Graham and David Montgomery. Fields did have the starting offensive line in of front him, but that didn't end up providing much more than cause for concern. 

NFLonCBS @NFLonCBS

Justin Fields final preseason stats:<br><br>• 30/49<br>• 276 pass yards<br>• 92 rush yards<br>• 3 TD<br>• 0 INT<br>• 96.98 passer rating <a href="https://t.co/B2dY9F0UfY">pic.twitter.com/B2dY9F0UfY</a>

Mark Grote @markgrotesports

Bears HC Matt Nagy says he and John DeFilippo were talking about Justin Fields on the sideline and DeFilippo said (of Fields), "He just goes to a different place on game day."

With Fields leading the offense, the Bears' offensive line gave up one sack and struggled to establish a run game. Chicago went three-and-out in an opening series that saw run plays on first and second down. On the next possession, the Bears were unable to convert on fourth-and-one at midfield. 

Overall, Chicago racked up 63 rushing yards on 21 carries for an average of 3.0 yards per attempt. That was largely due to the line's inability to create any gaps up front. Instead, it was Fields using his arm to keep drives moving downfield. 

Matt Forte @MattForte22

Runs from the shotgun on 4th and 1 rarely work unless O Line bulldozes the whole front. Can’t get a head of steam running sideways from 5 yards deep.

Fields picked up two first downs on passing plays and another via pass interference. A fourth first down came by way of unnecessary roughness penalty as Fields dropped back to pass. 

He would've gained another first down on an 11-yard pass to Rodney Adams—another perfectly placed ball high and outside where only Adams could grab it—however, the wideout was ruled to have caught it out of bounds after the Titans challenged. 

A play that didn't count in a game that didn't count continued to show Fields' potential. Just when Bears fans will get to see it again remains unknown. 

Chicago Bears @ChicagoBears

ONE-HANDED GRAB FOR THE HAT-TRICK!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHIvsTEN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CHIvsTEN</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/JHorsted?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JHorsted</a> <a href="https://t.co/E5wDK2qjAX">pic.twitter.com/E5wDK2qjAX</a>

Titans Fall Prey To Bears Defense

No Julio Jones, no Derrick Henry and no Ryan Tannehill was going to make this an uphill battle for the Titans no matter what happened on Saturday night.

A typically stiff Bears defense made sure of that. 

Tennessee found itself running into a number of mistakes solely because it couldn't avoid putting the ball right in the vicinity of Chicago's secondary. Both Matt Barkley and Logan Woodside threw interceptions at crucial moments that aren't likely to make any highlight reels. 

NFL @NFL

Danny Trevathan with the takeaway!<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHIvsTEN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CHIvsTEN</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLNetwork</a> (or check local listings)<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/fuBaH7nb4O">https://t.co/fuBaH7nb4O</a> <a href="https://t.co/VvRcw9705V">pic.twitter.com/VvRcw9705V</a>

First up was Barkley throwing an easily read pass in the red zone that Danny Trevathan couldn't wait to jump on. Even if Trevathan didn't make the grab, the odds were good that another Chicago defender would've had an opportunity to do so. Barkley tried to thread a pass through five Bears players on 2nd-and-five. Trevathan easily took it back to the 30-yard line. 

Tre Robinson had an even better play. 

NFL Network @nflnetwork

🚨 PICK 6 🚨 <a href="https://twitter.com/ChicagoBears?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ChicagoBears</a> <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHIvsTEN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CHIvsTEN</a> on NFL Network (or check local listings) <a href="https://t.co/TxLiOPwUhV">pic.twitter.com/TxLiOPwUhV</a>

The cornerback took advantage of Woodside's attempt to throw out of a collapsing pocket by jumping up on the play, snaring a wobbly pass and running it 27 yards back to the end zone for a pick-six. 

Tennessee did have a few players stand out on Saturday—a 50-yard screen pass to Khari Blasingame, in particular, will have fans excited about his development—but on the whole, this was a preseason finale they wanted to escape without any injuries or concerns. 

The Checkdown @thecheckdown

Clean route from Cameron Batson 🔥 <a href="https://twitter.com/KillaCam_3_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KillaCam_3_</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Titans?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Titans</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHIvsTEN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CHIvsTEN</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nflnetwork</a> (or check local listings) <a href="https://t.co/XIreOBhlVW">pic.twitter.com/XIreOBhlVW</a>

Tennessee Titans @Titans

Return of the fullback! <a href="https://twitter.com/KB_TwoThree?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KB_TwoThree</a> <br><br>📺: Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHIvsTEN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CHIvsTEN</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/WKRN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WKRN</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nflnetwork</a> <a href="https://t.co/8CRIJQWAU4">pic.twitter.com/8CRIJQWAU4</a>

To that end, the Titans had little to worry about Saturday. Not with a path to the Super Bowl opening up on Week 1. 

What's Next

The Bears open up the regular season on the road at the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 12 at 8:20 p.m. ET for the debut of Sunday Night Football. The Titans will get their season started with one of the first kickoffs of the day. They host the Arizona Cardinals at 1 p.m. ET on CBS. 

   

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