The Patriots entered “Monday Night Football” as 8.5-point favorites over the Bears, looking to win their third straight in Mac Jones’ return to the lineup following a three-game absence. They left with rookie Bailey Zappe back under center, and a Bill Belichick defense that got rolled over in the best performance of Justin Fields’ young Bears career. Despite Zappe’s entry briefly igniting the Gillette Stadium crowd along with New England’s passing attack, Fields stole the show at quarterback, headlining a multifaceted ground game as Chicago cruised to a 33-14 upset in prime time.
Jones, who was returning from a high-ankle sprain, made it not even a quarter and a half before Belichick benched him following an ugly second-quarter interception. But Zappe’s energy did only so much for the Pats after back-to-back scoring drives to start his night. New England didn’t log its 10th first down of the contest until deep into the fourth quarter, and three turnovers — a fumbled hand-off to Jakobi Meyers, and back-breaking interceptions to Roquan Smith and Kyler Gordon — allowed the Bears to literally run away with the win.
Here are some takeaways from Monday night’s big Bears upset:
Why the Bears won
They finally figured out how to put Fields in a position to win. Much like the Giants with Daniel Jones, Chicago allowed its young QB to lean on his legs, and the signal-caller did his part, showcasing extra effort and elite vision on designed carries to pace a rushing attack also featuring tough touches from David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. In between, he hit just enough downfield shots, including a critical late one to tight end Cole Kmet, to keep the Patriots on their toes. The Bears, put it simply, are built to win old-school football, and on Monday, they permitted arguably their best athlete — the QB — to help them do just that.
Matt Eberflus’ defense also came up big for much of the night. Jaquan Brisker’s pick of Mac Jones forced New England’s QB change, and after the initial spark of Zappe, his unit honed in to basically eliminate the Pats’ typically forceful one-two punch of Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris, who combined for just 40 yards going into the waning minutes of action. Roquan Smith’s heads-up play to pick off Zappe in the fourth all but sealed the deal, and Kyler Gordon’s own INT just rubbed it in.
Why the Patriots lost
Outside of Zappe’s first two drives in relief of Jones, who kept standing, helmeted, on the sidelines as if he were awaiting a momentary call to re-enter the matchup, they could not move the ball with any rhythm, nor could they stop the Bears’ three-headed ground game. The QB switch initially looked genius, with the rookie Zappe slinging it downfield with confidence and DeVante Parker making plays for the young signal-caller. But three-and-outs doomed the unit afterward, and by the end, Zappe’s command from the pocket had all but vanished; his errant picks erased any chance of a potential comeback. It didn’t help that the line couldn’t pave the way for any serious momentum from either Stevenson or Harris throughout the night.
Defensively, the Pats’ uninspiring night was perhaps even more surprising. Despite more flash from Matthew Judon (2.5 sacks) off the edge, they had no answers for keeping Fields contained once the QB broke outside the pocket. And their tackling left a bit to be desired in the red zone, where Montgomery and Herbert powered their way forward.
Trailing 17-14 with just 1:32 left in the first half, the Patriots had a chance to reclaim the lead driving from their own 39. But a botched hand-off from Zappe to Meyers put the ball on the ground, and Justin Jones recovered to give Chicago a bonus possession. After a quick Fields strike to Darnell Mooney, the Bears extended their lead before the break on a field goal, and never looked back.
Play of the game
Fields and Khalil Herbert deserve props for their hand-eye coordination on a screen-pass TD through traffic, but Jaquan Brisker, the Bears’ rookie safety, showed serious hops and hands on his pick of Mac Jones early on:
The Bears (3-4) will hit the road for a Week 8 showdown with the Cowboys (5-2), who edged the Lions in Dak Prescott’s first game back on Sunday. The Patriots (3-4), meanwhile, are now squarely at the cellar of the AFC East, and will be up against the surging Jets (5-2), who beat the Broncos for their fourth straight victory in Week 7.