Royal Oak Tribune

Detroit looks to stop Fields, get win on the road vs. Bears

- By Andrew Seligman

LAKE FOREST, ILL. >> Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell started rattling off names when asked about Chicago Bears quarterbac­k Justin Fields.

It was an impressive list: Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Jalen Hurts.

Campbell sees a little bit of each of them in Fields, and he’ll get an up-close look when the Lions visit the Bears on Sunday.

“Quarterbac­k driven runs, guard-tackle pulls, read the end, hand it off, these backs are running hard, they’re downhill,” he said. “And then, there’s enough of the keepers off of it. There’s enough misdirecti­on to the receivers. And then, certainly his ability on third down, that’s where they really got Miami was man, there’s a number of third-and-8, third-and-10 ... there’s an opening in there and he takes it and he’s gone.”

The Bears (3-6) come in with five losses in the past six games. But the big story is Fields’ improvemen­t.

He’s making a case he just might be the one to nail down a position that has historical­ly been a weak spot for one of the NFL’s founding franchises. He had already strung together several encouragin­g performanc­es in a row — and then came the game against Miami last week.

Though the Bears lost 35-32, Fields put on a show, running for 178 yards. It was the highest rushing total for an NFL quarterbac­k in a regular-season game since at least 1940. But there was more. Fields also became the first player since at least 1950 with at least 150 yards rushing and three touchdown passes in a game.

In the past five weeks, he has thrown for 851 yards, completing 76 of 120 passes, with eight TDs and two intercepti­ons. He also has run for 455 yards and three TDs in that time.

Fields leads the Bears in rushing with 602 yards and is averaging 6.6 per attempt. Only Jackson is running for more yards per carry.

“The experience has really led him to take the next step,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “But also, as I think we’re learning him and he’s learning the offense, it’s kind of both. So we’re tailoring it to him more, but he’s also learning the scheme at the same time.”

The Lions (2-6), meanwhile, had lost five in a row before beating Green Bay 15-9 last week. They intercepte­d Aaron Rodgers three times and hung on when he threw an incompleti­on on fourth down at the Detroit 17 in the final minute.

Even so, the Lions are in a familiar spot. They’re last in the NFC North and on course to finish with a losing record for the 18th time in 22 seasons.

Detroit drought

The Lions haven’t strung together back-to-back wins since October 2020, when they beat both Jacksonvil­le and Atlanta on the road under former coach Matt Patricia.

“A lot of life is about momentum and momentum is a big deal in sports,” receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown said. “If we win this one, it will give us momentum and positive energy moving forward.”

Getting situated

Bears receiver Chase Claypool is ready to start showing more of what he can do now that he has had a week to adjust to his new surroundin­gs.

Chicago acquired him from Pittsburgh before last week’s trade deadline, giving Fields a downfield

threat and maybe giving the offense more balance. The Bears lead the NFL in rushing and rank last in passing.

“We’re figuring out what routes are good, what concepts are good,” he said. “What run plays are good, stuff like that, in terms of the blocking scheme to get more and more comfortabl­e and see what’s good.”

Claypool caught two passes for 13 yards against Miami, giving him 324 in nine games. He had 860 yards last season and 873 as a rookie with the Steelers in 2020.

Claypool said receiver Darnell Mooney was “super helpful” by inviting him to his house to study the playbook. Fields, receiver Equanimeou­s St. Brown and tight end Cole Kmet have also helped.

Brotherly love

Amon-Ra St. Brown said trash talking started early in the week with his older brother, Equanimeou­s, a Chicago receiver.

“He said he was going to beat us and he gave me a score prediction,” he said. “I told him we’re going to beat them.”

Their parents plan to wear custom-made tops, incorporat­ing both team’s jerseys.

Under no pressure

Fields and Detroit quarterbac­k Jared Goff figure to have all the time they need. The Lions are tied with Atlanta for secondwors­t in the NFL with 12 sacks, and the Bears are just about right there with them with 13.

 ?? PAUL SANCYA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell looks towards the scoreboard during the first half of last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers in Detroit.
PAUL SANCYA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell looks towards the scoreboard during the first half of last Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers in Detroit.

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