It was a battle between two NFL teams at the bottom of the barrel on Thursday night, but the Chicago Bear They don’t mind getting their third win of the season by beating the Carolina Panthers, 16-13.
The Bears are now 3-7 this season, while the Panthers falling to 1-8 as their struggles under new head coach Frank Reich continue.
This low-scoring contest began with two consecutive punts, one from each team. However, the third punt led to the first points of this game, and it wasn’t cheers from the Solider Field faithful.
Moans and moans flooded the field.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette was back in the back of the Panthers’ zone waiting for the Bears’ Trenton Gill’s punt. After making the catch, Smith-Marsette avoided a few tackles that allowed the ball to break open.
After passing another defender, Smith-Marsette had a clear path to the end zone with only Gill to beat. And that’s exactly what he did, losing the tackle and racing into the end zone for a 79-yard touchdown.
This is the second straight primetime game that a punt return has kicked off the score, as the Los Angeles Chargers did against the New York Jets on Monday night.
Rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent gets fourth career start in place of injured player Justin Fields, and the Bears were able to respond with a field goal to take the lead. However, so did the Panthers and their rookie quarterback, first overall pick, Bryce Young.
There wasn’t much offense, except for a few more goals from the Bears, which cut the lead to one late in the first half. It wasn’t until the middle of the third quarter that the Bears finally managed to get into the end zone.
It’s D’Onta Foreman, the veteran running back who played for the Panthers last year, who continues to have a strong performance in Chicago. He did what he does best, running over tacklers to gain extra ground and found the end zone from four yards out to make it 16-10 in favor of the home team.
However, to start the fourth quarter, the Panthers were able to cut the Bears’ lead to three thanks to another Eddy Pineiro field goal.
After forcing a Bears punt, Young was looking for a potential game-winning drive, and he killed tons of time in the fourth quarter to start marching down the field. But, after the Bears got a crucial third-and-10 stop that almost resulted in an interception for Young, Reich decided to attempt a 59-yard field goal to tie the game.
Pineiro lined it up, but he didn’t have enough leg to get there.
The Bears would force Carolina into timeouts, and Foreman helped run out the clock to earn the victory. Bagent’s pass to Darnell Mooney on third down provided the final first down needed to get a knee.
Foreman had 21 carries for 80 yards with his touchdown becoming the game winner. Bagent was 20 of 33 through the air for 162 yards, finding former Panther DJ Moore, who Carolina traded this offseason to move up in the draft to take Young out of Alabama, five times for 58 yards.
For the Panthers, Young struggled with just 185 yards on 21 of 38 with no touchdowns scored on offense. The Panthers also had just 43 yards rushing.
The Bears will have a tougher task next week when they see the Detroit Lions on the road, while the Panthers return home to face the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday.