The Bears took home their first victory of the 2021 season on Sunday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals. The win was largely a product of the Bears defense which created a series of turnovers from young Joe Burrow. The biggest development, however, was at the quarterback position where an injury to Andy Dalton kicked off the Justin Fields era, at least temporarily.
Dalton put the Bears on the board early with a touchdown pass to Allen Robinson on the first drive of the day. Chicago’s defense protected that lead through the first half keeping the Bengals off the board.
The Bears quarterback then went down with a knee injury in the second quarter and had to come out of the game. Justin Fields took over to a raucous fan response, but the first round pick struggled and the score stayed tight at 7-3.
Chicago finally got the turnovers they were been looking for last week in LA with three consecutive interceptions. Roquan Smith had the biggest blow returning a Burrow interception 53 yards for a touchdown. The Bears turned the other two picks into field goals and a 20-3 advantage.
Cincinnati would not go away that easily, however, they scored a long touchdown to make it 20-10. Fields made a mistake of his own, throwing an ill-advised interception that led to another score and closed the gap to 20-17. Luckily, the Bears were able to get a pair of timely first downs to run out the clock and secure the victory. (Box score)
Why the Bears Won
The defense showed up and played the way they are capable of on Sunday holding the Bengals to just 248 total yards. That was good, because, the Bears offense did almost nothing all game long.
Fields scrambled for a first down on 3rd and 9 from the Bears 26 with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter. That conversion was pretty much the end of the game as Chicago ran out the clock from there.
Stats That Matter
- Fields was 6-13 for 60 yards passing and scrambled for 31 on the ground. He appeared to be a bit overwhelmed at times and made a couple of mistakes, especially the late interception.
- David Montgomery had tougher sledding in this game, running for just 61 yards on 20 carries as he was the focus of the opposing defense.
- Smith had a sack in addition to his pick-six.
- The Bears had just 208 total yards on offense, probably not an amount that will win many games going forward.
So is this the start of Justin Fields as franchise quarterback? That will depend on the severity of Dalton’s injury. If both are healthy it is unclear if Matt Nagy will stay with his young quarterback. He made a lot of mistakes on Sunday that showed his inexperience. His coach may feel the veteran option is the more viable option in the near future if the goal is to win this season. No matter what the option is at quarterback if the Bears want to be a playoff team this season they need more efforts like they got from the defense today. That is the most important factor in 2021.
Bears head to Cleveland for week 3 against Baker Mayfield and the Browns Sunday at 12:00pm CT. The game will be broadcast on FOX and WBBM radio.