Chicago Bears: Justin Fields relieves injured Dalton in win over Bengals


by - Senior Writer -
Jon Durr - USA Today Sports
Jon Durr - USA Today Sports

CHICAGO – Looking for their first win of the 2021 NFL season, the Chicago Bears (1-1) welcomed the Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) to town for their first home game of the 2021 NFL season. After a rough showing on the road in week one, the Bears had a lot to prove in week two and hoped to take out their frustrations on a Bengals team coming off an overtime win against the Vikings.

Despite the offense looking lackluster again through most of the game, the Bears defense rose to the occasion late, intercepting Joe Burrow on three consecutive possessions to seize control of the game. From there, Justin Fields, yes, Justin Fields, who entered the game after Andy Dalton left with a knee injury, did just enough as the Bears held off a late Cincinnati rally to win 20-17.

After receiving the opening kickoff, Dalton and the Bears offense wasted no time going right to work on a Bengals defense that needs a ton of work. It was the Dalton Darnell Mooney connection early on as those two were moving the ball towards midfield. Facing a third and long, Dalton took a shot for Marquise Goodwin downfield, and pass interference was awarded, costing the Bengals 32 yards in field position. Three plays later, Dalton went to Allen Robinson for the game's first touchdown as the Bears opened the 7-0 lead.

For the Bengals, things were not as smooth sailing on offense as the Bears, as they did move the ball a little bit on their opening possession only to come away with a punt. Getting the ball at their own 10, Chicago's offense was back on the field and continued to push the ball down the field, with David Montgomery picking up large chunks of yardage both on the ground and in the air. That drive not only closed out the first half, but went into the second quarter as well, only to see the Bears turn the ball over on downs and come away empty-handed.

Perhaps the biggest moment in the game came on that drive, as Dalton left the game with a knee injury and didn't return. That meant it was time for Fields to show the Bears what he can do, and although limited throughout the rest of the first half, he did enough to keep the Bears in front. Neither team did much the rest of the first half as fewer than 65 total between the teams was added up, with the Bears leading 7-0 after one half of play.

As the second half began, it was time for the Bengals to put a big drive together using 11 plays to move the ball 43 yards. Joe Mixon was a big reason for that, but the Bears defense stood tall with Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith getting plenty of pressure on Burrow, forcing the Bengals to settle for a 53-yard field goal from Evan McPherson to make things 7-3.

Following a quick punt for the Bears offense, it was time for the defense to sink their teeth in and make life miserable for Borrow and that offense. The first of those miserable moments was a first down catch from Tee Higgins, only to see Eddie Jackson force the ball out of his hands for a fumble. Chicago turned that drive into three points, with Cairo Santos connecting on a 22-yard field to make things 10-3.

Five plays later, or the next drive for that matter, saw Borrow look Tyler Boyd's way only to see Smith step in the passing lane for the interception. He did the rest taking it to the house from 53 yards out, giving the Bears a 17-3 lead at that point. Two plays later, and it was Jaylon Johnson's turn to step in front of a pass intercepting Borrow for the Bears second interception of the half.

Although that drive led to no points, the Bears defense continued to do what they needed to do, intercepting Burrow for a third straight possession Angelo Blackson coming away with the interception and setting the Bears up for another short field. Although Chicago didn't do much with that possession, it did lead to another Santos field goal as the Bears extended their lead to 20-3.

Still, in the fourth quarter, the Bengals put together their best drive of the game traveling 75 yards on just six plays. A big reason for that was Burrow going up top to Jamar Chase for 42 yards as the Bengals were within 20-10 at that point. Three plays into the Bears next possession, Fields found out firsthand how hard it is to solve an NFL defense with Logan Wilson stepping in the passing lane and returning it to the seven-yard line for the first down. Borrow, and company did the rest as he found Higgins for a quick seven-yard slant pulling the Bengals to 20-17.

Facing a critical third down and long situation with the chance to ice the game, the Bengals appeared to have the perfect play dialed up to contain Fields in the backfield. After getting wrapped up a defender, Fields escaped as he used his legs to pick up the game-ending first down to give the Bears a 20-17 win.

Fields was far from perfect in his NFL debut, passing for under 100 yards and rushing for around 40 as that will be one of the biggest storylines to follow all week long.

Dalton finished the game 9/11 for 56 yards before getting injured, while Burrow finished 19-30 for 207 yards and two scores to go with three interceptions. Montgomery led the way on the ground for Chicago with 61 yards on 20 carries while Mooney hauled in six catches for 66 yards.

Chicago will look to move above the .500-mark next week as they take on an outstanding Cleveland Browns team on the road. The only question is who the starting quarter will be back when that game begins.

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