Strange start turns in to ugly finish for Bears in 31-10 loss to Jets
Most unlikely performance? Has to be Walter Payton running for 275 yards against the Vikings in 1977 while dealing with a 104-degree fever. Not far behind would be Jim McMahon's heroic 3-TD performance in Minnesota on Sept. 19, 1985. Also must include Gale Sayers' 6 TDs in a 61-20 win over San Francisco on Dec. 12, 1965.
Most incredible finishes? How about Mike Brown returning interceptions for touchdowns in overtime on back-to-back weeks in 2001? Or perhaps Dave Williams' 95-yard kickoff return for a TD on Thanksgiving Day in 1980?
Most demoralizing finish? Plenty to choose from, but the topper has to be when Packers place-kicker Chester Marcol scooped up his own blocked field goal and ran 25 yards into the end zone to give Green Bay a 12-6 win in overtime in 1980. Google it. It's unreal.
What happened Sunday in the Meadowlands won't exactly rank up there with any of those moments, but we might be able to term it: Most Bizarre Pregame Ever.
The Bears had already determined that Justin Fields would not suit up and were preparing to start Trevor Siemian at quarterback. During warmups, however, Siemian tweaked an oblique muscle.
Shortly thereafter, the Bears' PR staff rounded up the beat writers in the press box and told them: Siemain's out; Nathan Peterman will start.
Twitter was instantly all atwitter. ESPN reporters were in disbelief. Bettors were frantically checking lines.
Twenty minutes later?
Never mind. Siemian's starting.
It was a comical half-hour from a fan's standpoint, but not one that left Siemian laughing as he discussed the situation with WBBM 780-AM after the Bears' 31-10 setback.
"Part of me is embarrassed," said Siemian, who staked the Bears to a 10-7 lead when he hit Byron Pringle on a sharp 4-yard TD pass early in the second quarter. "I haven't played all year ... and to have something come up like this when I haven't been out there, I'm frankly embarrassed.
"Guys are dealing with stuff at this point in the season all over the place. Just one of those things."
As for Justin Fields, coach Matt Eberflus said the medical staff was not able to clear the second-year QB.
"(He) couldn't protect himself properly to perform," Eberflus said.
Siemian looked fantastic early, completing passes to running backs David Montgomery and Darrynton Evans that went for 26 and 33 yards, respectively. Siemian also connected with Chase Claypool for 20 and 31 yards during the nine-play drive that ended with Pringle's TD reception.
"They're such good players," said Siemian, who completed 8 of his first 11 passes for 127 yards, but finished just 14-for-25 for 179 yards. "That's part of your job back there, to lay it up for them (and) give 'em a chance."
The Bears looked sharp and it was fair to wonder if a massive upset was in the making.
Of course, it was not to be.
The Jets (7-4) went up 14-10 when Garrett Wilson raced past an injured Eddie Jackson on a 54-yard TD catch-and-run. Jackson (foot) did not return. New York took a 17-10 lead on a 57-yard field goal late in the first half.
The Bears (3-9) were still in it at that point, but the offense ground to a halt and New York scored 2 relatively easy TDs in the third quarter to send Eberflus' squad to its eighth loss in nine games.
Jets QB Mike White threw for 235 yards in the first half alone, hitting 10 different receivers in the process. He became the fifth player ever to have multiple games with 300 yards passing and 3 TD passes in his first four career starts.
Eberflus was particularly displeased with how his team tackled in the second half.
"We've got to do a better job there -- and that's what I told the guys in the locker room," Eberflus said. "I said, 'That wasn't good enough. We're better than that and we've got to perform better than that.'
"And that was for the whole football team. We didn't get it done in the second half."
It's a severely short-handed group right now, so don't expect any miracles going forward. Not only did the Bears play without rookie DBs Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon (concussions), they also lost WR Darnell Mooney (ankle) and offensive linemen Riley Reiff (shoulder) and Larry Borom to injury.
If the Bears are smart, they'll sit Fields against the Packers next Sunday, then see if he can return to face the Eagles on Dec. 18.
David Montgomery, who had 79 yards on 14 carries and added 34 yards on 3 catches, said Fields remains positive and is "doing great."
"Justin's always ready to work, whether he's playing or not," Montgomery said. "You kind of need that from a guy. We just can't wait to get him back.
"He's an incredible guy, man. (And) an incredible athlete."
Since beating the Patriots on October 24, the Bears have lost five straight, allowing 173 points in the process.
Seven players carried the ball for New York, which piled up 158 yards on 32 carries. Wilson finished with 95 yards on 5 catches and 2 TDs, while Elijah Moore had 2 catches for 64 yards and a TD.