Bears vs. Falcons – Game Preview – November 20, 2022

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ATLANTIS — — Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears learn to score in the quarterback’s second season.

Learning to win was the hardest lesson.

Fields will be in the spotlight for his return to Georgia as the Bears and Atlanta Falcons face strong running games — and deflating losing streaks — on Sunday. Fields, a native of the Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw, began his college career in Georgia before transferring to Ohio State.

Fields’ family had Falcons season tickets. He said his favorite Atlanta players were the quarterback matt ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones.

Fields did not know how many of his friends and family members will attend the game.

“I know my regular people go there — my mom, my dad,” Fields said. “But of course it’s exciting, for sure. My goal is really to go 1-0 this week and win the game there.

Fields, a 2021 first-round pick, solidified his status as the Bears’ franchise quarterback by leading the NFL’s best rushing offense. He returns to Atlanta after rushing for a combined 325 yards over the past two weeks, the most two-game total by an NFL quarterback, surpassing Baltimore’s two-game total of 268. . lamar jackson in 2019.

The fields ran 178 meters against Miami two weeks ago and added 147 last week 31-30 defeat in Detroit. He will be the top priority of the Atlanta defense.

“He knows how to move the ball and he knows how to use his legs to make big plays,” the Falcons cornerback said. AJ Terrell said. “We just have to get the details and make sure we attack him in the right way and don’t let him let go, keep him confined and don’t let him out of the pocket for sure.”

After scoring 90 points in their first six games, the Bears have scored 91 in their last three. More points did not lead to more wins. Chicago (3-7) has lost three in a row and six of seven.

The Falcons (4-6) have lost two straight and three of four, but are still only one game behind first-place Tampa Bay in the dreary NFC South.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

Fields’ homecoming gives Falcons fans a chance to guess the team’s decision to bypass Fields and draft the tight end instead Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 draft. The Bears selected Fields seven picks later.

Asked this week to comment on that draft decision, coach Arthur Smith said: “There are a lot of players available, you can go down that rabbit hole in different ways.”

The Falcons traded Ryan to Indianapolis after the 2021 season and acquired Marcus Mariota before choosing the quarterback Desmond Cavalier in the third round of the 2022 draft. Smith continues to express confidence in Mariota while Ridder has yet to debut.

RUN FIRST

The Bears are a league-leading 201.7 yards average. The Falcons rank fourth with 160.4.

Chicago became the first team in the Super Bowl era to run at least 225 in five straight games after finishing with 258 last week.

Although each team has a run-first mentality, passing numbers have suffered. Chicago is last in the league in passing and Atlanta ranks 30th.

TIREDNESS

The Bears’ rushing offense took a hit this week when the team placed come back Khalil Herbert in casualty reserve.

Herbert suffered a hip injury while returning a kickoff last week. He will miss at least four games.

Herbert is second on the team behind Fields with 643 yards while splitting duties with David Montgomery. He’s sixth in the league at 6 yards per carry. Montgomery has 434 yards on 115 attempts.

BOOST FOR SECONDARY FALCONS

The Falcons are hoping Terrell, their top defensive back, will be back on the field after missing three games with a hamstring injury.

Terrell returned to practice Wednesday. He said it was his first hamstring injury and he was trying to be careful not to rush his comeback.

“I push as much as I can, just to see where I’m at,” Terrell said.

DEFENSE IN FIGHT

Bear Recruit Jack Sanborn got his first two sacks last week and had an interception on a touchdown in the fourth quarter that was canceled by a penalty against the cornerback Jaylon Johnson. He was one of the strengths of a gutted and struggling defense.

The Bears have allowed 115 points over the past three games and are tied for 25th in defensive scoring this season. Chicago traded Pro Bowl defensive end three times Robert Quinn and star linebacker Roquan-Smith last month.

“These guys are having experiences they can’t duplicate and have to have,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “To get better, you have to get the reps.”

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AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman contributed to this report.

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Raymond I. Langston