An efficient and mistake-free outing by Tyson Bagent in his first NFL start coupled with a stifling defensive performance led the Bears to a decisive 30-12 win over the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday at Soldier Field.
Starting in place of the injured Justin Fields, Bagent completed 21 of 29 passes for 162 yards with one touchdown, no turnovers and a 97.2 passer rating. Sacked only once, the undrafted rookie from Division II Shepherd University consistently made quick decisions and quick throws, avoiding negative plays.
The defense held the Raiders to one touchdown and generated three takeaways, including two Jaylon Johnson fourth-quarter interceptions, one of which he returned 39 yards for his first career touchdown. The unit permitted only 235 total yards and 39 yards rushing and allowed Las Vegas to convert just 2-of-9 third-down opportunities (22.2%).
The Bears (2-5) rushed for 173 yards on 38 carries. D'Onta Foreman ran for 89 yards on 16 attempts and scored three touchdowns on runs of 2 and 3 yards and a 5-yard pass from Bagent. Darrynton Evans added 48 yards on 14 carries.
The Bears did that damage behind their sixth different offensive line combination in seven games. With left tackle Braxton Jones and right guard Nate Davis out with injuries, the unit consisted of left tackle Larry Borom, left guard Cody Whitehair, center Lucas Patrick, right guard Teven Jenkins and right tackle Darnell Wright.
"The one [thing] that stands out to me is complementary football, and that's what it's all about," said coach Matt Eberflus. "We wanted to come into the game and run the ball and we did a really nice job of that, controlling the game that way and also being able to stop them, and I thought that was really good by the offensive line, the defensive line. When you can own the line of scrimmage like that, I always think that's a positive."
"The big boys on offense and defense I thought played extremely well today," Bagent said. "Any time that you're able to do that, it makes things easier for everybody. I thought they did an outstanding job today."
The same could be said for Foreman. After being inactive for four straight games, the six-year NFL veteran stepped into the feature role last weekend with running backs Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer all sidelined with injuries and rushed for 65 yards against the Vikings. Foreman was even more productive Sunday.
"I thought D'Onta played out of his mind," Bagent said. "I thought he played extremely well. Kind of a little glimpse of some things he was able to do last year [with the Titans]. I know he was itching to get out there and have a good game. Just because like he told us in the locker room, a lot of watching in the season for him so far, so it was only a matter of time before he was able to break out and have a game like he did today."
Eberflus lauded Foreman for staying positive during the games he sat out.
"When he was down and then we activated him up, he was the same guy all the time, and that was pretty cool," Eberflus said. "He was doing show team stuff and the guy was a heck of a back. Just at that time we're heavy at the halfback position.
"He took it in stride, and he knew his opportunity was going to come. Last week, he wanted to perform better, and today he did. He's just got to start stacking performances and keeping that positive, can-do attitude like he did."
The Bears never trailed in Sunday's game.
After the Raiders' Daniel Carlson missed a 41-yard field goal attempt wide left, the Bears took a 7-0 lead on Foreman's 2-yard touchdown run with 3:45 left in the first quarter. Bagent completed 4 of 4 passes for 20 yards and had a 10-yard scramble on the 12-play, 69-yard drive.
In the second period, Tremaine Edmunds intercepted a Brian Hoyer pass that slipped through the hands of running back Josh Jacobs at the Las Vegas 34. The offense converted the takeaway into a touchdown as Foreman powered into the end zone from three yards out to increase the Bears' lead to 14-0. The TD came one play after Bagent's 16-yard pass to Marcedes Lewis.
The Raiders cut the deficit to 14-3 on Carlson's 40-yard field goal with 1:47 remaining in the half. The kick came after Yannick Ngakoue pressured Hoyer into a third-down incompletion.
After forcing a Las Vegas punt to start the second half, Bagent capped a methodical 15-play, 88-yard drive that burned 8:16 off the clock with a 5-yard TD pass to Foreman, who broke a tackle attempt by cornerback Marcus Peters to make it 21-3.
Carlson's 25-yard field goal drew the Raiders to within 21-6 with 12:20 to play in the fourth quarter. But Cairo Santos answered with a 54-yard field goal, widening the margin to 24-6 with 5:46 remaining.
Johnson followed with two interceptions in a 1:04 span. First, he picked off Hoyer and returned it for the Bears' first defensive touchdown of the season, and then intercepted a second pass by rookie Aidan O'Connell.
The Raiders capped the scoring with a 9-yard TD pass from O'Connell to Jakobi Meyers. The Bears stopped Las Vegas on the ensuing two-point attempt—and then ran out the clock to record their second victory in their last three games.
"It means a lot to a lot of people," Bagent said. "It basically means the world to everyone else when you're able to play well in the trenches, when you're able to control the line of scrimmage, run the ball well and stop the other team's run game. I thought it was an outstanding team effort today."