Bears blow 21-point lead to Broncos, ties for biggest collapse in team history
Mike Dinovo - USA Today Sports

Bears blow 21-point lead to Broncos, ties for biggest collapse in team history

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - In a matchup between two winless teams at Soldier Field, something had to give as the Denver Broncos (1-3) squared off against the Chicago Bears (0-4). Both of these teams were coming off of ugly losses a week ago, and for most of the game, it looked like the Broncos were about to suffer another painful loss.

Not only did the Bears score 21 points in the second quarter to take a 21-7 lead at the half, but Justin Fields was starting to look like the QB everyone hoped he would as he started the game 23-24 with four TDS through the air. Fields would finish 28-35 for 335 yards and four scores, but it was the Bears defense that let them down late as they surrendered 17 fourth-quarter points to put them in a 31-28 hole only to have Fields picked off by Kareem Jackson with less than a minute to go as the Broncos come back to stun the Bears 31-28.

Even with Fields getting off to a great start and finding DJ Moore for a nice gain on their opening possession, most of their success would come in the second quarter as the Broncos used an 11-play 84-yard drive to take the lead as it spanned nearly half of the first quarter. Russell Wilson played a huge role in that, as he also had a big day finding Jerry Jeudy for a massive gain to move the ball near midfield. A few nice runs from Javonte Williams kept the drive going before Wilson hooked up with Jaleel McLaughlin from 18 yards out to put the Broncos in front 7-0.

Fields and the offense didn't waste any time responding as they, too, used a long drive to end the first and open the second as Darnell Mooney set things up with a huge first-down reception. Mooney wasn't done on the drive, picking up another first down catch to move the ball near the red zone before Fields hooked up with Moore for the 29-yard TD and tied things up 7-7. Following a quick three and out resulting in a short punt, the Bears offense was at it again and needing three plays to go 44 yards as two big passes to Moore and Cole Kmet did the job with Kmet going 22 yards for another score and putting the Bears up 14-7.

For the first time this season, the Bears not only looked to be in control but relied on their defense to set the tone as the rookie Zacch Pickens came away with a massive sack on the Broncos next possession, which helped set up another punt. When you talk about a quick strike offense, the Bears next possession was a classic example of that, as they went 85 yards on six plays and needed less than three minutes to do it. Khalil Herbert started things off with his longest run of the day before Fields found Equanimeous St. Brown for the huge hookup.

Another big pass to Kmet put the ball inside the Broncos 20-yard line before that duo hooked up for the second time in the half, giving the Bears a 21-7 lead after one half of play. Fields did a phenomenal job completing passes and distributing the ball as Moore led the way with eight catches for 131 yards, while Kmet added seven receptions for 85 yards and his two scores.

With a comfortable lead, the Bears defense continued to set the tone in the third before the offense put together a nearly 10-minute drive that took over 13 plays and most of the third quarter. Any time you have a drive like that, defenses tend to get tired, and despite the Bears committing a few penalties and taking a sack, they continued to get the yards they would need. Finding Mooney again helped keep things going, but Mercedes Lewis also had a pivotal catch to move the ball inside the Redzone. That was when Roschon Johnson took over to move the ball inside the five before Fields found Herbert for his fourth TD pass of the game and put the Bears up 28-7.

At this point, you had to like the Bears chances of winning this game, but this is Chicago, as the offense didn't score the rest of the way. After Wilson hooked up with Brandon Jonhson from eight yards out to make this a 28-14 game entering the fourth, it was all Denver from there as the Bears offense suddenly went stale. Not only did the Bears have two straight drives resulting in punts, but the Broncos put together two scoring drives that saw them pick up more than 160 total yards in the process.

That included a 10-play 66-yard drive to begin the fourth as the Broncos now had the momentum on their side. McLaughlin helped set things up with a nice run, but the 25-yard hookup to Jeudy gave the Broncos life and moved the ball inside the Bears 30. Another first down completion to Lil'Jordan Humphrey pushed the ball close to the 10 before Courtland Sutton came down with a 13 yard TD to pull the Broncos within 28-21.

Needing to get things going in a hurry, Fields took a massive sack from Nik Bonito. In the process, the ball popped out, and Jonathon Cooper scooped it up and took it 42 yards to the house, and just like that, this was a 28-28 ball game. In desperate need of a response, Herbert appeared to come down with another nice gain, only to have the play called back due to holding. That didn't seem to matter as Fields tucked it to race 20 yards for another first down, with Tyler Scott coming down with a nice first down play to move the ball into field goal range.

Instead of taking the points on fourth down and trusting their defense, the Bears elected to go for it, and it was Herbert getting stuffed on the play as the Bears not only came away with no points, but also gave the ball back to an offense that was on fire. One play into that drive saw Wilson hook up with the rookie Marvin Mims Jr. as the 48-yard hookup brought the ball to the Chicago 33.

That was the only positive from that drive, but it made a difference as Will Lutz banged home the go-ahead 51-yard field goal to put Denver in front 31-28 with less than two minutes to go. With a chance to play hero for the first time in 2023, Fields found Kmet for a first down to start the Bears next possession as his massive day continued.

After a pair of impletions, Fields found Moore for 14 yards and pushed the ball to midfield with less than a minute to go. Needing a big play to move the ball into field goal range, Fields took his shot and aimed for Kmet. Unfortunately, Jackson intercepted his pass, and that was the ball game for the Bears as the Broncos came from 21 points back to secure the 31-28 win.

With the loss, the Bears are now 0-4 on the season and have lost 14 straight games dating back to last season. It also means Fields is 5-25 as a starter, but this game wasn't on him, as the Bears defense let him down. All is not lost for Chicago as they have a quick turnaround this week as they will take on the Washington Commanders on Thursday night.

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