Game Recap: Bills hold off Bears in preseason finale
Daniel Bartel - USA Today Sports

Game Recap: Bills hold off Bears in preseason finale

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - Looking to close out the 2023 preseason on a winning note, the Chicago Bears welcomed the Buffalo Bills to Soldier Field Saturday afternoon. This was more than just a game for the Bears, as their starters did play some, but it was what happened before the game that stood out the most.

Less than 48 hours after Dante Pettis went on the injured list, Bears starting DE Trevis Gipson requested a trade, and according to sources, it appears the team will honor his request. That is bad news regarding the pass rush on defense, but it does pave the way for some Bears rookies to see the field sooner.

With both the Bills and Bears going with their starters for at least a couple of series, many expected the Bills to score early and often before running away with things. That did appear to be the case early, but led by PJ Walker and his 71 yards passing, the Bears refused to go away, only to fall to the Bills 24-21 in the end.

Knowing that Justin Fields would see some action, all eyes gravitated towards the Bears signal caller as this was a massive game for him to get some momentum heading into the regular season. Fields didn't look good going just 2-6 passing, but with 51 yards, he continued to show the big-play ability the Bears are hoping to get more of.

On the other hand, Josh Allen was far more efficient, going 5-7, but only throwing for 49 yards. He was replaced by Kyle Allen, who nearly threw for 200 yards, which helped the Bills get the offense rolling. Immediately after forcing a punt on the Bears first offensive possession, the Bills offense got to work as they drove 72 yards on 12 plays and took nearly half the quarter with them.

During this drive, Josh Allen had the short passing game working, with Stefon Diggs coming away with several catches to move the chains. You also had James Cook lead the ground attack as he will look to shoulder an even bigger load in 2023 with the departure of Devin Singletary and the loss of Nahiem Hines. The big play of the drive came when Allen hooked up with Gabe Davis to move the ball inside the five as D Harris finished things off from two yards out to put the Bills in front 7-0.

Those were the only points scored in the first quarter as the Bears were forced to punt on their second possession before Tyrique Stevenson intercepted Kyle Allen to give the back to the Bears offense. In what took up the rest of the first and the early stages of the second quarter, the Bears capitalized on those interceptions and put together an 11-play 68-yard drive to get on the board. Fields used his legs to pick up a first down to start things off before hooking up with DJ Moore for 40 yards and moved the ball into Bills territory.

Fields found D'Onta Foreman later in the drive for another first down before Cairo Santos finished things with a 34-yard field goal to make things 7-3. After the next two drives resulted in punts, the Bills offense got back on the board, putting together a short four-play 50-yard drive. Harris did his job by carrying the ball four times, but Kyle Allen's arm gave the Bills the lead as he found Justin Shorter for 19 yards early in the drive and Quintin Morris for the 29-yard score later.

Not only did the Bears answer, but that answer came on special teams as the rookie Tyler Scott returned one 56 yards into Bills territory and set the offense up with excellent field position. From there, it was about the Roschon Johnson and Tyson Bagent show, as both of them got the drive started in a positive manner. Bagent also used his legs to pick up a first down and score a touchdown as his eight-yard scramble made things 14-10. Bagent led the Bears in rushing with 23 yards on four carries.

With the next two drives resulting in turnovers, Buffalo managed to cash in just before the half as Tyler Bass connected on a field goal to give the Bills a 17-10 lead at the half. The third quarter was much different than the previous quarters, as neither team was able to do much of anything early on. That was until the Bears offense put together another lengthy drive, which they hope to do plenty more of this season.

Needing 12 plays to go 53 yards isn't that great of an average, but when you take nearly seven minutes off the clock, you are doing your job as an offense. Nsimba Webster started things with an excellent first down run before getting involved in the passing game for another near 20-yard gain. He paired well with Johnson as they moved the ball into Bills territory but had to settle for a 51-yard Santos field goal to pull within 17-13.

Immediately following that field goal, it was the Bills offense again coming through as they scored for the final time in the game. This time, it was a nine-play drive that ended the third and opened the fourth as Kyle Allen leaned on the rushing attack, with Darrynton Evans scoring from 35 yards out to make things 24-13. The Bills had a chance to stretch things out even more later in the quarter, only to come away with a missed field goal attempt.

Miscues were the theme for the Bills throughout the fourth as they not only missed a field goal but had a blocked punt happen late in the quarter to set the Bears offense up and gave them life. Walker took care of things from there, finding Stephen Carlson for 28 yards to start the drive before hooking up with Robert Burns for the five-yard strike as the Bears pulled within 24-21. Unfortunately, those were the final points in the game as the Bills got the ball back and proceeded to run out the clock for the win.

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