Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields has a winning record as a starting quarterback after a big road win over the Las Vegas Raiders to bring their mark over .500 at 3-2. This game, however, was all about a stellar rushing attack for most of it and a smothering defense throughout.
The 20-9 victory comes on the heels of a win over the division-rival Detroit Lions. It gives the Bears a modest two-game winning streak. It also gives them a little momentum ahead of hosting the division-leading Green Bay Packers next week.
For now, Fields, Matt Nagy, and most of the offense can thank Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, and the rest of the crew on the defense for this one.
3-2 Bears Get Big Win, Khalil Mack Get His Revenge on Raiders in Week 5
This game started off similar to the last meeting between these two teams. Then, the Raiders took it to the Bears physically across the pond in London. Vegas, still Oakland at the time back in 2019, walked away with the narrow 24-21 win. More importantly, exposed Chicago’s run defense without Akiem Hicks.
They had 169 yards rushing as a team, led by Josh Jacobs. He had 123 of those yards on 26 carries and also punched in two touchdowns. Jacobs, you may recall was taken with a pick sent by Chicago to Las Vegas in the Mack trade.
On Sunday, despite Hicks not suiting up at all for this one, he was held to 48 yards on 15 carries. He did run in another score, however.
The Bears front harassed Raiders quarterback Derek Carr all day, sacking him three times and hitting him numerous others. Mack — who was lived in the backfield in this one — as well as both Tashaun and Trevis Gipson got to him and the defense hit him four times total.
They couldn’t get to him at all in the last meeting.
Carr also threw a pick. Backup safety DeAndre Houston-Carson covered a lot of ground to get his second career takeaway. But the eighth-year passer still had his pass-catchers let him down. Bryan Edwards dropped two passes that would have gone for big gains in crucial situations. Star tight end Darren Waller also had some balls uncharacteristically go off of his hands.
They even overcame some silly penalties by defensive lineman Mario Edwards late that could have turned the game on its ear.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 10, 2021
Ground and Pound
The Bears rushed for 143 yards on Sunday. They did so without stud back David Montgomery who was placed on injured reserve with a hyperextended knee this week. In his place, offseason free-agent pickup Damien Williams started and toted the rock 16 times for 64 yards and a score.
Sixth-round rookie Khalil Herbert chipped in another 75 yards on 18 carries as the Bears much-maligned offensive line got some consistent push for most of the contest.
Fields, now the permanent starter, only generated four yards on his three runs. But, after he hyperextended his knee on one scramble, everyone is just happy he was able to finish this one. The 11th-overall pick from this past April’s NFL Draft also threw his first touchdown, finding tight end Jesper Horsted for a two-yarder in the second quarter.
He completed 12-of-20 passes (60 percent) for 111 yards and the touchdown.
The offense got bogged down for much of the second half, managing just 88 total yards in the final two quarters. Play-calling seemed to shift from being aggressive to conservative as they tried to protect an 11-points lead through three frames.
A fourth-quarter touchdown by the Raiders led to a thwarted two-point conversion try. But it was two fourth-quarter drives leading to back-to-back Cairo Santos field goals that would ultimately seal this one. On the year, Santos is 5-for-5 on field goals and 7-for-7 on extra points. He’s made the Bears previous kicking woes a distant memory.
— NFL (@NFL) October 10, 2021
Santos’ first kick in the fourth was perhaps the most integral to the Chicago win. Up by just five points, and with the Raiders playing better defensively, the Bears went 53 yards on 10 plays and took over six minutes off of the clock on a drive that started at their own 15-yard line.
Fields completed passes of 13 and 14 yards to Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet, respectively and the running back had 19 yards on four carries to set up the kick.
Despite not being as explosive in the second half, the Bears offense got what it needed when it needed it most. And Fields, despite taking two sacks and being hit four other times, stood tall and made plays when his team need him to.
In previous seasons, throws like his touchdown would have been picked off by other Bears quarterbacks. Those hits he’s taken in recent weeks would have those passers seeing ghosts already. Full disclosure, there is a chance all of those things happen at some points this season too.
But for at least this week, Fields (who did not turn the ball over on Sunday) took a hit on his scoring throw and simply gestured “bring it” while his teammates celebrated.
After the game, Nagy praised his quarterback for his toughness. It certainly seemed palpable.
Even if fans were apprehensive in the fourth quarter as the Raiders attempted to make a comeback, there was also a calm that started with their quarterback. Often described as ‘stoic’, Fields’ unflappable demeanor is probably his best trait in an ever-changing, fast-paced NFL.
Bears Big Win In Context
Every Bears fan knows what next week is. It’s “Packer Week”. Nothing else matters but trying to beat the hated Green Bay Packers, who survived their kicker missing several field goals before ultimately hitting the game-winner versus the Cincinnati Bengals, in a battle for first place in the division. At 4-1, the Packers are once again looking like the class of the division.
They are far from unbeatable, though, and will be without Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander, and possibly two offensive linemen.
This could be the Bears best chance to steal one from their nemesis; something they haven’t been able to do since 2018 (since 2015 at Lambeau Field). We’ll see if Fields can keep growing as the starter. But the real key will once again be Mack and the defense.
Embed from Getty Images