On Sunday, Justin Fields will make his first NFL start at quarterback for the Chicago Bears. As the Bears prepare to take on the Cleveland Browns on the shores of Lake Erie, Fields will make his return to Ohio, a place he called home for the past two years and has yet to lose.
Both teams head into this matchup fresh off their first wins of the year. The Bears travel to Cleveland sporting a 1-1 record and the Browns are 1-1 as well. Chicago is coming off a 20-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at home. Meanwhile, the Browns beat the Houston Texans 31-21 in Week 2.
The Bears and Browns will battle against each other for the 17th time. Currently, the Browns hold a two-game lead over the Bears all time. In 16 previous matchups, the Browns are 9-7-0 against the Bears and have outscored them 382 to 297.
The day was December 24, 2017 — Christmas Eve. It was cold, windy, and snowy as the Browns made the trek to Chicago to take on the Bears for a Week 16 matchup. The Bears were 4-10 entering the game. Meanwhile, the Browns were winless at 0-14. Of course, this game saw a clash of two rookie quarterbacks. DeShone Kizer was the lead signal-caller for the Browns and Mitchell Trubisky manned the huddle for the Bears.
Once the game got underway, both teams had sluggish starts. The Browns began on offense but ran only five plays for 14 before they were forced to punt. The Bears couldn’t muster up much offensively as they went three-and-out after picking up only nine yards, leading to a punt back to Cleveland. On the ensuing possession, the Browns picked up one first down but punted the ball back to Chicago. Fortunately for the Bears, Mitch Trubisky led his team on a nine-play, 57-yard drive, which was capped off by a two-yard Jordan Howard touchdown run. However, Mike Nugent missed the extra point, because, of course.
After the Bears’ scoring drive, Cleveland and Chicago exchanged a succession of four punts. Finally, the Browns started to move the ball on the Bears’ defense. But their drive came to an abrupt end as Kyle Fuller intercepted a Kizer pass intended for the end zone.
Ultimately, the Bears did nothing with the gift and punted the ball back to the Browns. Once again, the Browns’ offense found some semblance of rhythm and went 48 yards on four plays. As a result, Zane Gonzalez hit a 48-yard field goal as the clock expired to end the first half.
Chicago sported a 6-3 halftime lead over Cleveland.
Coming out of halftime, Benny Cunningham returned the kickoff 28 yards and set the Bears up with excellent field position. Now, with the ball at the 40, the Bears marched down the field 60 yards on four plays. That sequence included a 40-yard screen pass to Cunningham that set up the eventual scoring play, a 16-yard run by Jordan Howard.
Howard’s second touchdown of the game extended the Bears’ lead to 13-3. In a failed attempt to respond, the Browns lost four yards on three plays and punted the ball back. As soon as the Bears received the ball, they went 66 yards on 12 plays and scored another touchdown. This time it was Mitch Trubisky taking it in himself for a four-yard run.
Once again, the drive saw a huge chunk of yards come from a screen pass to Cunningham. Chicago extended its lead to 20-3.
Consequently, the Browns methodically moved the ball down the field against the Bears’ defense. Ultimately, their seven-play, 72-yard drive came to a stop. Just as the Browns were about to score, Danny Trevathan forced a fumble that Prince Amukamara recovered in the end zone. Subsequently, Chicago and Cleveland traded five punts following the takeaway.
Finally, the Bears put an end to all hopes of a Browns’ comeback. Nick Kwiatkoski came free on a blitz and forced Kizer’s hand. As result, Bryce Callahan picked off an errant pass intended for Rashard Higgins. The Bears took over and went into clock-chewing mode. Six plays, -1 yards, and minutes later, they punted the ball back with just 0:13 left in the game. The Browns could only attempt one play and that was all she wrote.
The Bears knocked off the Browns and dropped them to 0-15 on the season. The 20-3 victory boosted the Bears record to 5-10. In the season finale, the Bears lost the Minnesota Vikings and finished their season at 5-11. On the flip side, the Browns went on to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers and completed their winless season at 0-16.
Of course, neither team made the playoffs and as a result the Bears fired John Fox and replaced him with Matt Nagy. As for the Browns, they quickly moved on from DeShone Kizer and ended up drafting Baker Mayfield. Since then, Kizer has played for the Green Bay Packers, Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, and Tennessee Titans.
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