With one throw, Justin Fields shows how special he can be

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — No one will remember that, when quarterback Justin Fields called out the play Saturday, the Bears had engineered 29 minutes and 1 second of a Southern-fried snoozefest. Or that, at that very moment late in the first half, the Bears had thrown for 34 yards and run for 32. The Titans had gifted them almost as many yards — 64 in total, and 35 alone on the final drive of the first half. The Bears had scored one touchdown — but on an interception return, not on offense.

What anyone watching the exhibition will remember is the throw.

The Bears’ rookie quarterback made one special play in Saturday’s exhibition game against mostly Titans second- and third-stringers — but it was one that maybe a dozen passers walking the planet could have made. His touchdown pass in the eventual 27-24 Bears win shook his team out of an offensive slump that has lasted through six preseason quarters.

Fields will begin the regular season as the backup for the same reasons he struggled early in Saturday’s game. But when he takes Andy Dalton’s place — and it will be sooner than the Bears first thought — it will be because of plays like the one he made with 59 seconds left in the first half.

Fields had three receivers flanked to his left and a running back to his right when Sam Mustipher snapped the ball. Tight end Jesper Horsted was the only receiver on the right side, standing tall two steps away from right tackle Germain Ifedi.

Fields took the snap, backpedaled, planted his right foot at the 29 and burst forward to avoid the pass rush. He took two steps forward along the right hash mark and broke right, toward the sideline, at the 27. Defensive tackle Teair Tart, at 304 pounds, lumbered after him but lost ground with each step.

Fields could have kept the ball and sprinted up the sideline — the nearest possible tackler was 12 yards ahead of him — when he pulled up and threw into the end zone.

There were three Titans defenders and two Bears pass-catchers — including Horsted — waiting.

Horsted, who caught three touchdown passes Saturday, had burst off the line of scrimmage before getting jammed by third-string safety Clayton Geathers. The safety rode Horsted’s left shoulder before the tight end shoved him away seven yards later and broke to the sideline. Horsted turned the route up again, toward the end zone. Running along the right sideline, he began looking back for the ball at the 4. He was two yards deep into the end zone when it came his way.

Geathers had his back turned to Fields, who fired the ball toward his right shoulder. Horsted extended his arms to his left, caught the ball and hung on after being hit by two defenders.

It was a perfect throw — on a dead run.

Earlier this month, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo detailed what made Fields special on the run.

“In the quarterback room we always say, ‘If there’s a throw to be made, we make it,’” he said. “‘And if there’s not we use our god-given ability to escape the pocket, keeping our head and eyes downfield.’”

That’s precisely what Fields did.

He wouldn’t take another snap after the throw, finishing his preseason 30-for-49 for 276 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 90.18 passer rating. He ran for a touchdown, too, and carried 11 times for 92 yards.

There’s no telling when he’ll play again. But the next time the Bears rookie takes the field, he won’t be coming out.

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