Bears left tackle Braxton Jones (70) has played three games after missing games on injured reserve with a neck injury.
Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Bears left tackle Braxton Jones is one of the most mild-mannered players on the team. So it seemed a little out-of-character to see Jones visibly upset as he walked off the field and told an official, “I couldn’t [bleeping] see,” when he was removed from the game in the third quarter of Sunday’s 31-26 loss to the Lions at Ford Field.
As it turned out, Jones was OK. Officials had him leave the field after Jones complained of dizziness after falling to the ground and quickly getting up on Khalil Herbert’s rush for no gain in the third quarter. Jones missed two plays — Justin Fields threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to DJ Moore on the second one — with Larry Borom at left tackle. But Jones returned on the next possession and finished the game with no repercussions.
“I had rolled and tumbled and I just got up way too quick. Just got me a little dizzy,” Jones said. “I just needed a second. The refs took me off. I was evaluated. I was completely fine, honestly. I just think I was tired, needed 10 seconds to gather myself, but we didn’t have 10 seconds — the play clock was going down.”
The 6-5, 210-pound Jones missed six games earlier this season with a neck injury, but said the episode against Lions was not related to the previous injury. And he never was concerned about that.
“I knew I was fine — that’s kind of why I was frustrated. But no need to react like that, and I apologize for reacting like that. Just in the moment, I want to be out there for my teammates. Nothing was wrong with me. I got evaluated and was right back out there playing.”
The Bears had three interceptions against Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who came into the game with just five interceptions in 326 pass attempts — third best in the NFL. But they could have had more. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson lamented two missed opportunities for interceptions that he could have returned for touchdowns.
“Definitely had a shot at both. I should have capitalized,” said Johnson, who has two interceptions this season, returning one for a touchdown. “I had two opportunities to put 14 points on the board. Gotta finish those better. Not easy catches but I’m a player that can make those plays and I’ve got to do it.”
Playing it safe
The Bears converted two fourth-down situations in the first half — Fields’ five-yard pass to DJ Moore on fourth-and-two at the Lions 43 in the first quarter; and Roschon Johnson’s five-yard run on fourth-and-one at the Lions 32 in the second quarter. The Bears scored three points following those conversions.
But coach Matt Eberflus wasn’t ready to gamble with a 20-14 lead and a fourth-and-one at the Lions 23 after Justin Fields was stuffed on a sneak attempt on third-and-one. Cairo Santos kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Bears a 23-14 lead and force the Lions to score twice to win.
That’s generally the correct play. Teams have gone for the first down in that situation seven times in six games this season and converted four times. For what it’s worth, the gambling team won each time, whether the gamble worked or not.
“The fourth downs early were good decisions,” Eberflus said. “We’ve got to capitalize on those and turn them both into touchdowns. Later in the game, where the game was, based on what we’ve seen to that point, we like our decisions on fourth down not going for it and kicking those field goals.”