Justin Fields was probably less worried about his left knee than anyone else Saturday.
After taking a hit to his lower leg and limping off the Michigan Stadium field midway through the third quarter, Fields went to the medical tent with Ohio State fans among the 112,071 in attendance and everywhere else hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
So it was more than just a little bit of a pleasant surprise when he emerged from the tent, put his helmet back on and jogged over to the coaching staff.
Then he went back in and delivered a lightning bolt that proved he was OK and buried the Wolverines a little deeper.
“I thought it was a magical moment,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said of a 30-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Garrett Wilson, who had worked his way into some daylight in the end zone after Fields escaped from the pocket.
The sophomore quarterback rolled to his left after being pressured then found Wilson with a perfect pass.
It was high enough to get over a defender but still kept him in bounds and gave Ohio State a 42-16 lead with 3:46 left in the third quarter.
“I thought it was a Heisman moment for him to go down, take that injury, puts the brace on and makes a throw that we didn’t design that way,” Day said. “There were some plays that played out just the way we thought they would, but that wasn’t one of them. And for him to ad lib, make a play and then make that throw moving to his left, that’s about as good a throw as you’ll ever see. That goes to show what’s inside of him. His heart, his character and his competitive toughness is as good as I’ve ever been around and I can’t say enough about the way he played.”
It turns out those traits were on Fields’ mind when he decided to go back in the game.
“Coach Day emphasizes toughness so I wanted to show the team I was tough,” said Fields, who completed 14 of 25 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns while also running for 25 yards on six carries.
When Ohio State’s 56-27 win over Michigan was over, Fields was fairly nonchalant about the whole thing.
“I just needed to switch knee braces,” he said of going to the tent, where trainers did examine him for signs of more serious damage to a Medial Collateral Ligament he injured late last week against Penn State. “It was hurting when I went down, but I just got up and went in the tent and went to get a bigger knee brace that I do not like to wear and then just got back out there.”
»PHOTOS: Ohio State routs Michigan
Although his injury initially looked severe, Fields said he was never worried it would turn out to be.
“Nah. I try to think for the better so I don’t really have negative thoughts in my head,” he said. “I give all the credit to God. Without him I’d be nothing. Just the hard work the whole team puts in the whole week pays off.”
He also potentially added a little spice to the rivalry when he asked why Ohio State has been able to dominate lately, winning 17 of the last 19 meetings.
“I know a few players on the team,” Fields said. “I just know the things we do in terms of workouts and how seriously we take it at Ohio State. So just talking to those guys and getting their perspective on things, I definitely see that we take it way more serious.”
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