Ohio State QB Justin Fields plays through hip pointer injury: 'He was not 100 percent tonight'
Sometimes wincing in pain and sometimes looking just fine, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields overcame a painful hip pointer injury Monday to keep his team in a shootout of sorts before halftime against Alabama.
But it wasn’t nearly enough. The Buckeyes soon buckled under Alabama’s dominant offense, rendering Fields largely irrelevant in a 52-24 loss at the College Football Playoff national championship game in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Fields completed 17 of 33 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown, just 10 days after sustaining such a hard hit to his side against Clemson that many wondered whether he had broken his ribs. Fields’ father told ESPN before the game Monday at Hard Rock Stadium that his son was diagnosed with a hip pointer.
"For him to go out there and play today really shows his toughness and how much he loves his brothers," Ohio State coach Ryan Day said afterward. "He still took some shots on that hip. He was not 100 percent tonight. He was working through it and made some really good throws, made some gutsy plays, kept us in the game there for a while, but he's an unbelievable player, and I'm going to miss him."
Fields said afterward that he wasn't able to practice during the early part of last week and "kind of struggled." At one point in the second quarter Monday, Fields was slow to get up off the field, gritted his teeth and touched his hip in pain. But he also directed the Buckeyes (7-1) to two touchdowns in their first four possessions and steered his team to the end. He faced heavy pressure from Alabama (13-0) throughout and rushed six times for 67 yards.
"At the end of the day, I'm glad I was able to play, and we didn't get the job done," Fields said after the game. "But of course I could have been healthier. But I was healthy enough. I was able to be out there."
His health had been a mystery all week after the injury in the second quarter of his last game, a 49-28 win against Clemson in the national semifinal Jan. 1. That’s when Clemson linebacker James Skalski barreled into Fields’ right-side rib and hip area with his helmet on a tackle that was flagged for illegal targeting, causing Skalski’s ejection from the game.
The blow also knocked Fields out of the game for one play before he returned to throw four more touchdown passes, including two bombs of 56 and 45 yards.
In the Clemson game, Fields completed 22 of 28 passes for 385 yards and six touchdown passes despite the injury. Fields, a transfer from Georgia, said after that game that an injection helped him get back on the field.
“I took like a shot or two in the (medical) tent and just ran back out there,” he said Jan. 1. “But I mean it’s pretty much my whole right torso that’s messed up, a little bit of my hip.”
Fields also said after that game that he felt pain after every throw. But the specific nature of his injury was kept secret by Day, who cited team policy about not disclosing injuries. Day said medical decisions were handled by the medical staff.
On Thursday, Fields said he had “full trust in the trainers here at Ohio State and (team doctor James) Borchers.”
“I wasn't, you know, I guess hesitant on taking anything that they would give me, but I was just trying to do whatever I could do to get back on the field,” he said then. “I think those guys handled it the way I would have wanted it to be handled.”
He predicted Thursday, “I'll be good come Monday night.”
He was, just not good enough to do what he did against Clemson.