Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy thought the first play of the Bears’ ill-fated final drive Sunday would go for 10 yards.
Instead, it ended with quarterback Justin Fields landing awkwardly and separating his left shoulder.
“So it went from being like a 10-yard run out of bounds, not get hit, everyone’s happy,” Getsy said, “to a two-yard, roll out of bounds and fall on your shoulder.
“It turned into a pretty bad thing pretty quickly.”
That’s an understatement.
The next two plays weren’t much better — Fields running the wrong play on second down and getting hit after he slid, followed by a third-down interception. Like that, the Bears had failed to score on yet another final drive, sealing a 27-24 loss to the Falcons.
Getsy on Thursday tried to explain the inexplicable: how the Bears’ last offensive gasp resulted in two runs and an interception on a short throw.
To understand why in the world he would call a Fields sweep on the first play of their final drive, he said, you have to go back to the middle of the second quarter.
The Bears were facing third-and-five at the Falcons’ 22 when Fields took a shotgun snap and ran left. Tight end Cole Kmet sealed defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji, leaving left tackle Braxton Jones to pull left. Jones ran past inside linebacker Beau Brinkley, who was rushing over his inside shoulder, to try to block safety Jaylinn Hawkins on the outside. David Montgomery also tried to block Hawkins.
Brinkley shot inside and tackled Fields for a one-yard loss. As the quarterback stood up along the sideline, Montgomery pointed to the rookie left tackle to tell him he blocked the wrong guy.
“Braxton kind of just ran right by the guy,” Getsy said. “Probably a 15-, 20-yard gain we left on the table.”
He filed the play away for later, believing Jones would might the right block for a long gain.
The Bears had 1:47 to play and three timeouts left — plenty of time to call running plays, Getsy said. With the ball at their own 25, the Bears had to go 40 yards or so to set up a Cairo Santos field goal to try to tie the game.
“We’re in great shape, only needing the field goal,” he said. “Want the touchdown. Need a field goal. You’re in great shape, pretty much can do whatever you want in that situation.”
Getsy said he wasn’t concerned by Fields’ hamstring cramps during the second half; it’s not unusual, he said, for the quarterback to have his legs stretched on the sideline. On first down, he called the sweep.
Again, Kmet sealed the defensive end. Again, Jones pulled left. He looked inside — but his man, cornerback Dee Alford, was rushing over Jones’ outside shoulder. Alford tackled Fields as he ran out of bounds and fell on his shoulder.
Getsy knew his shoulder was hurting on second down, so he called a draw for running back David Montgomery.
“Because he had the injury we thought, ‘Let’s give him a breather play,'” he said. “Let’s just get a draw off. And obviously he was in discomfort [so] that he kind of lost sight of what the play was.”
Rather than hand it off, Fields kept the ball himself and ran for four yards. He slid and was hit by defensive lineman Grady Jarrett. There was no flag.
On third-and-five, Fields threw an interception on a high checkdown pass that tipped off Montgomery’s fingers to seal the loss.
“He performed the play correctly,” Getsy said. “Just a little bit too late.”