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What we learned about Justin Fields, Bears in season-ending 17-9 loss vs. Packers

What we learned about Justin Fields, Bears in season-ending 17-9 loss vs. Packers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- The Bears had a chance to end a turbulent season on a high note Sunday at Lambeau Field. With a win, the Bears would eliminate the Packers from playoff contention and start their rival's offseason early.

Sunday's game also held a lot of weight for quarterback Justin Fields, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, and head coach Matt Eberflus, all of whom needed to make a strong final statement to stay in Chicago.

But the story Sunday was the same as it has been for the past 10 games in the rivalry.

The Packers' defensive line bullied the Bears' offensive line, Fields was efficient but couldn't engineer big plays, and Packers quarterback Jordan Love had his way with a Chicago secondary that was missing star cornerback Jaylon Johnson in a 17-9 Green Bay win.

Fields finished the game 11-for-16 for 148 yards, while Love went 26-for-31 for 301 yards and one touchdown.

Here's what we learned in the Bears' 17-9 loss to the Packers:

Banged-up OL struggles

The Bears' offensive line entered Sunday's season finale having played seven straight games with their preferred starting five.

But center Lucas Patrick injured his calf during the week of practice, and right guard Nate Davis exited Sunday's game early with a foot injury. With backup center Dan Feeney and swing guard Cody Whitehair thrust into action, the Bears' offensive line struggled against the Packers' vaunted defensive line.

Green Bay notched three sacks and seven tackles for loss during the first half, including sacks by Lukas Van Ness and Kenny Clark that put the brakes on promising Bears drives and forced field goals.

Fields went 8-for-9 for 94 yards in the first half, but he found little room to operate with his legs, and the Packers' defense bowed up once the Bears got on their side of the field.

The Bears offensive line's struggles continued in the second half. Needing a response after the Packers opened the third quarter with a touchdown, Fields dropped back on third and 7 and felt immediate pressure before being sacked by linebacker Quay Walker.

Chicago's line finished the game giving up five sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Left guard Teven Jenkins was beaten consistently, while Feeney and Whitehair also had tough days at the office.

Feeling the Love

With starting cornerback Jaylon Johnson out with a shoulder injury, the Bears were forced to rely on rookie cornerbacks Tyrique Stevenson and Terell Smith to contain Love and the Packers' passing game.

The Bears' defense had several breakdowns in pass coverage in the first half, including a 32-yard pass from Love to Jayden Reed and a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dontayvion Wicks. Wicks beat Smith in coverage.

Love went 10-for-12 for 102 yards and a touchdown at the half as the Packers led 7-6. It could have been worse for the Bears. The Packers drove deep into Chicago territory at the end of the first half and appeared to be guaranteed three points. But with seven seconds left, Love threw a quick out to Wicks on the right sideline. Stevenson hit Wicks as he caught it, pushing him backward and causing the receiver to step out of bounds. The down judge ruled that Stevenson stopped Wicks' forward progress and ran the clock. Green Bay was out of timeouts and couldn't get back to the line to spike it to get the field goal off.

Love and the Packers opened the second half with a surgical nine-play, 75-yard drive that Love capped off with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Wicks to stretch the lead to 14-6.

Love finished the game with one more winning play.

Facing a third-and-7 and needing to convert to close the game out, Love sat in the pocket before being flushed to his right. With the rush bearing down, Love hit Tucker Kraft as the tight end was coming across the middle for a gain of 15 to effectively send Green Bay to the playoffs.

Closing statement

Fields entered Sunday's game knowing that it could be his last as the starting quarterback of the Bears. The third-year signal-caller has played well of late, but a strong showing Sunday in Green Bay would be an important data point to add to general manager Ryan Poles' offseason equation.

Fields was at a disadvantage on Sunday. He was without No. 2 wide receiver Darnell Mooney and starting center Lucas Patrick. Starting right guard Nate Davis left in the first quarter with a foot injury.

Fields and the offense had moderate success moving the ball between the 20s but struggled on third down and in the red zone. The offensive line did Fields no favors. The game plan had its issues. Fields entered the third quarter with just nine pass attempts.

With 10:54 left in the fourth quarter, Fields and the Bears' offense took the field down eight with a chance to tie the game.

A 16-yard pass to Herbert got the Bears into Packers territory. On the next play, Fields took off to run and was hit as he slid by Packers safety Jesse Owens. Fields didn't get a flag, but his head hit the turf, and he was briefly removed for a concussion evaluation.

Fields re-entered after a trip to the blue medical tent, but the drive was once again stopped by the Bears' offensive line. On second-and-6 from the Green Bay 34, Feeney was called for a hold. On second-and-16, Karl Brooks blew past Jenkins to sack Fields for a loss of seven. Fields' screen pass on third-and-23 fell incomplete, and the Bears were forced to punt.

The Bears did not get the ball back.

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