The Bears and the Panthers participated in what some experts identified as a football game on Thursday night. It was a very ugly low-scoring game, as expected, and Chicago was able to grind out an important victory for their draft position in 2024.
Carolina struck first in the opening quarter when former Bear Ihmir Smith-Marsette returned a Trenton Gill punt 79-yards for a touchdown. Chicago answered with a 54 yard Cairo Santos field goal at the end of the quarter to make it 7-3.
The Panthers kicked their own field goal to go back ahead by a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Santos knocked in two more kicks before the half and the score was 10-9 at the break.
Chicago took over at Carolina’s 38 yard line halfway through the 3rd quarter down by a point. The Bears made a wise coaching decision and took the ball out of quarterback Tyson Bagent‘s hands. D’Onta Foreman finished off the drive with a 4 yard touchdown run to give the Bears a 16-10 advantage.
The Panthers kicked yet another field goal in the 4th quarter to cut the deficit to just three. The road team then had a time consuming march down the field but a long kick that would have tied the game came up short and Chicago was able to hold on for the 16-13 win. (Box score)
Why the Bears Won
They avoided mistakes and that was just enough to hold off a really lousy Carolina team.
The Bears defense stiffened with less than two minutes left in the game and forced the Panthers to try a game-tying 59-yard Eddie Pinero field goal that the former Chicago kicker left well short.
Stats That Matter
- Bagent did almost nothing on Thursday, importantly avoiding any costly turnovers, throwing for 162 yards and no touchdowns.
- Foreman had 80 yards on the ground and was the most effective offensive weapon for Chicago.
It certainly was not a pretty victory for the Bears but they did what they needed to do to improve their draft position on Carolina’s pick. Justin Fields definitely does not have anything to worry about job security wise for the rest of this season anyway.
It’s a much harder test for the Bears on November 19 when they head to Detroit to take on the Lions at 12pm CT in a game airing on FOX.