Bears' Justin Fields sets regular-season rushing mark for QB

CHICAGO -- Justin Fields continued to make his case as the top quarterback from the 2021 draft class after reaching historic heights during Chicago's 35-32 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The Bears quarterback set multiple NFL and franchise records on Sunday. His 178 rushing yards are the most by a quarterback in a regular-season game in the Super Bowl era, surpassing the previous high set by former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick (173) in 2002.

Fields was 3 yards shy of breaking the all-time record, which ex-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick (181 yards) reached in the 2012 divisional playoffs.

Fields also became the Bears' single-game franchise record holder by surpassing the 127-yard rushing mark set by former Chicago quarterback Bobby Douglass in 1972.

"I think I'm just growing and getting better each and every week," said Fields, who found out he broke the Bears' single-game quarterback rushing record when it was shown on the video board at Soldier Field. "My main goal right now is just to continue to do that. Continue to trend up, and each and every day I practice, just keep getting better and better. That's really all you can do."

Despite the loss, Fields turned in one of the best performances of his career. The second-year quarterback completed 17 of 28 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns and finished with the third-highest passer rating of his career (106.7), his second consecutive game with a passer rating above 100. Fields also accounted for a rushing touchdown.

"It's insane," Chicago tight end Cole Kmet said. "It's nuts. When you see him run like that and then be able to execute in the pass game like he did, it's pretty special, for sure."

The highlight play came on a 61-yard scramble that ended with Fields in the end zone early in the third quarter. On third-and-5 from the Chicago 39-yard line, Fields dropped back to pass and initially looked to connect with wide receiver Darnell Mooney.

"We were expecting man (coverage) on that play," Fields said. "They went with motion to man and on the snap, they went to zone. I was looking for Moon, stepping up in the pocket looking for Moon, and right when I was about to throw it to him, he turned around so I kind of had to pull the ball back and at that point, instincts took over."

The longest rushing touchdown of Fields' career was the second-longest TD run by a quarterback this season. The longest was Lamar Jackson's 79-yard touchdown run in Week 2, which also came against the Dolphins' defense.

Miami entered Week 9 with the league's sixth-best run defense but has struggled to contain running quarterbacks. Jackson rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on Sept. 18. On Sunday, the Dolphins had no answer for Fields, particularly on third down when he used his legs to keep plays alive.

Fields had seven carries for 111 yards and a touchdown on third down and converted for a first down six times.

"He's as fast as any skill position runner," Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. "Like he is really, really fast and he can cut and break tackles. There are a lot of running quarterbacks. This one in particular I think is very elite and adept at that."

Chicago's offense has averaged 31.3 points per game over the past three weeks after posting 15.5 points per game throughout Weeks 1-6. The added element of Fields as a runner has helped the Bears maintain their status as the league's top rushing offense (195.4 yards per game). That trend began in earnest against New England, when designed quarterback runs helped Chicago reach its highest scoring output (33 points) during the Fields era.

Against the Dolphins, it was Fields' scrambling ability (110 yards, touchdown) that ripped through Miami's defense.

"That was a big point of emphasis going into the game, just knowing how he's really helped really change that offense's complexion the last couple weeks," McDaniel said.

Fields continues to show progress week to week after an up-and-down start to the season. Even in a loss, Bears coach Matt Eberflus called Fields' performance "a huge step" for the quarterback and the direction the franchise is headed.

"I think it's special," Eberflus said. "I think we are building our football team. Like I said, we have a young football team. We are building upon that. And the centerpiece of that is the quarterback. That's the way it is in the NFL. Talk about toughness and grit and the ability to persevere through a lot of different things.

"Obviously, start of the season is feeling his way, and now the last three games he's really taken off. And we are excited about that as a group and we are excited about that for the Chicago Bears and the franchise."