CHICAGO — After the Chicago Bears extended their losing streak against NFC North rival Green Bay to nine in a 38-20 season-opening loss, quarterback Justin Fields offered an apology.
The significance of the matchup was never lost on the 24-year-old quarterback, who has played the Packers more than any other opponent throughout his three-year career and has yet to notch a win.
“It sucks,” Fields said. “Rivalry, Week 1, going against the Packers. It sucks. I mean, nobody’s in good spirits. This one hurts. I’m not going to lie to you. It definitely sucks.
“It definitely hurts. Not only because it’s the first game of the season, it’s a loss, but it’s a loss to them. So, I want to say sorry to teammates, all the fans that were rooting for us. We’ll bounce back. We’ll be good.”
Fields accounted for 87% of the Bears’ total yards Sunday when he completed 24-of-37 passes for 216 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 78.2 passer rating. He also led Chicago in rushing with nine attempts for 59 yards.
Seven of Chicago’s 12 drives resulted in a punt, interception or fumble or turnover on downs. The Bears struggled to push the ball down field with a heavy dose of screen plays and short passes that resulted in Fields averaging a career-low 4.1 air yards per attempt. The quarterback was only 2-for-5 with a touchdown and a pick-6 on passes of 10-plus air yards against Green Bay, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“That was just the game plan,” Fields said. “I think just with those, we just got to be better blocking on the perimeter just to set those up. If you go back and look at the film, if we block the guys, those are big chunk plays, 10, 15, 20-yard plays. That was just the game plan. If they weren’t going to match, decided we were going to throw it out there and let our guys work. Just didn’t do our best at perimeter blocking, blocking on the edge, for our guys to catch the ball and run.”
The most glaring hole in the gameplan? Wide receiver DJ Moore being targeted twice in the second quarter — two catches that totaled 25 yards — and then never targeted again.
“We were more than prepared,” Moore said. “They just outwilled us today. That’s the best way I can put it.
“It’s definitely a wake-up call.”
The Bears’ offense constantly found itself playing behind the chains after going 3-of-13 on third down. Offensive penalties didn’t put Chicago in favorable down and distances after three false starts and two holding calls.
“We put ourselves behind on offense a bunch of times,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. “I think that’s why the third downs were not what they expected to be. We got to get that cleaned up because that’s something you can improve on by being disciplined and not having those penalties. Last year we were third in the league in penalties. We can definitely clean that up. That’s correctable.”
Chicago trailed 7-6 nearing halftime before the Packers put up 17 unanswered points to take a commanding third quarter lead. A 20-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Darnell Mooney cut the Bears’ deficit to 24-14, but the momentum was short lived. On Green Bay’s next drive, quarterback Jordan Love turned a broken play into a 37-yard gain to tight end Luke Musgrave which set up a touchdown one play later.
In the span of 56 seconds, the Packers scored two touchdowns to put the game out of reach with 12:53 to play in the fourth quarter.
“This is disappointing,” cornerback Jaylon Johnson said. “We all compete to win. Not winning and then losing in that fashion? It just felt like they whooped our ass in the second half.”