It seems the Chicago Bears' lot in life is to never be able to get ahead.
They bounce back from a horrendous loss in Cleveland and do everything positive a team could need to do Sunday in building a 24-14 victory over the Detroit Lions.
And then they watched David Montgomery clutching his left knee after a 5-yard run with 11 minutes remaining in what had become a lopsided game.
It ruined the occasion, and put their offensive progress in doubt heading forward to a game in Las Vegas against the Raiders.
"There's a lot of highs and lows and my job as a leader of these men, everybody, is to make sure that when you have a bad game and you struggle, can you rally back?" Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "Can you respond? Because there are a lot of people that don't."
It would seem even after responding positively, the Bears will need to respond again for at least a while without Montgomery after he scored touchdowns on runs of 4 and 9 yards in the first half and finished with 106 yards on 23 carries.
Montgomery led the 75-yard, game-opening drive to a TD and a 7-0 lead with 31 yards on six carries, then refused to go down on the second TD when it appeared he was stopped.
"I know it's early in his career but you see the way he runs, you see the way he plays, the energy, the effort, he really is the embodiment of what it means to be a Chicago Bear," Bears center Sam Mustipher said. "Hopefully things are great with him."
The second scoring drive to a 14-0 lead ended with Montgomery but resulted from Justin Fields' biggest play as a Bear. He threw a 64-yard bomb to Darnell Mooney, then scrambled for an 11-yard run on third-and-4 from the Detroit 20 to set up the TD.
"I just felt like we had a good balance between run, play-action, and just different stuff like that," Fields said. "It was just great play by the O-line, like I said before, just a great balance between running and passing the ball.”
A week after throwing for only 68 yards on 6 of 20 in the loss to Cleveland, Fields hit on 11 of 17 for 209 yards. His only real flaw was an interception, but it was tipped at the line.
He found Mooney for a career-high five catches and 125 yards.
"He's more comfortable. Calm," Mooney said. "Just being able to get that first one out of the way and just understanding that it's not that different. You just got to play regular. Just be yourself and go out and play.
"And he did that today."
The lead hit 21-0 in the third quarter when Damien Williams scored on a 4-yard run after Fields found Allen Robinson for a 28-yard completion and then Mooney for a 32-yarder.
"You're a rookie quarterback in a tough environment your first start, you come back at home and you bounce back and he did that," coach Matt Nagy said. "He made great plays. He made great throws, great decision-making.
"His teammates stepped up for him, the defense did, the special teams, his coaches did and for that I am proud of all those guys."
The defense had an injury of its own to overcome. Defensive end Akiem Hicks went out with a groin injury on the very first play of the game. The Bears had been hoping to have Hicks paired inside with Eddie Goldman for the first time since 2019—their two big run stuffers together.
Instead, they struggled to stop the run early but managed to play complementary football. The offense got them a lead and the pass defense made it stand up.
The Bears had a sack each from Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Trevis Gipson and Roquan Smith, and Quinn's strip sack wiped out one scoring threat.
"It was just about bulling our necks and not letting those guys in," Smith said. "A time or so they got in, but it's just about staying true to ourselves and just playing very hard 'til the last whistle."
Detroit's Jared Goff completed 24 of 38 for 299 yards and had TD throws of 4 and 25 yards to Kalif Raymond in the second half after the Bears owned a three-touchdown lead. Cario Santos' 33-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter made it 24-7 and all but ensured the Lions couldn't make a game of it.
Earlier they were thwarted on a strip sack by Jonathan Quinn and Khalil Mack recovery, a Bilal Nichols recovery on a botched snap from center and twice they lost the ball on downs in the red zone. In all, they had four trips inside the 10-yard line when they came away without a single point.
"That should be a standard," Quinn said. "If they don't cross the goal line, you have a chance to get them off the field. So that should be our standard, no matter how close they are and no matter what the situation is.
"It is our job as the defense to keep points off the board. We try not to make excuses and try not to point fingers. We just try to do our job. Hopefully, the way we were rolling today, we can consistently build on that."
The Bears offense was as effective in the red zone, with four trips and three TDs.
A week after they had 47 net yards, the ninth lowest total in NFL history, the Bears had 200 net yards by halftime and 373 yards for the game.
Afterward Nagy still didn't want to reveal whether he called plays or offensive coordinator Bill Lazor did, but finally relented.
"In regards to the play calling, Bill did a great job," Nagy said. "I think that in the same point in time it's important that we understand that I felt good out there as a head coach. That's real, you know?
"But we all get together, we talk through how we're going to call the game, and we do that when I'm calling plays, too. You know what I mean?"
So now they'll apparently have to get together and come up with a game plan for Lazor to call without their No. 1 running back available, depending on the knee injury's severity.
"David's a leader," Fields said. "He's one of the team captains. He talks to us before every game. I mean, he's a dog. He's bringing the same energy every day at practice and every game.
"And I hope my boy, I hope it's not too serious. But you know, even if it is, he's still going to be a leader on this team and still going to continue to lead this offense each and every day."