Bears defense dominates Panthers in low-scoring affair

The Chicago Bears snapped their four-game losing streak with a 16-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night at Soldier Field. The Bears defense was the star of the show, forcing four turnovers and sacking rookie quarterback Bryce Young five times. The Panthers, who have now lost seven straight games, struggled to move the ball and score points against the Bears’ stout defense.

Bears defense makes life miserable for Young

The Panthers traded up to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft to select Bryce Young, the Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama. Young has shown flashes of brilliance in his rookie season, but he has also been plagued by turnovers and inconsistency. On Thursday night, he faced one of his toughest tests yet against the Bears defense, which ranks among the best in the league in several categories.

Bears defense dominates Panthers in low-scoring affair
Bears defense dominates Panthers in low-scoring affair

Young completed 22 of 38 passes for 189 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also lost two fumbles and was sacked five times for a loss of 39 yards. Young’s first interception came on the Panthers’ opening drive, when he threw a deep pass intended for D.J. Moore that was picked off by Eddie Jackson. Young’s second interception came in the fourth quarter, when he tried to force a pass to Robby Anderson that was tipped by Roquan Smith and caught by Tashaun Gipson.

Young also fumbled twice in the second quarter, both times after being hit by Khalil Mack. The first fumble was recovered by the Panthers, but the second one was scooped up by Robert Quinn and returned 24 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Bears a 10-0 lead with 6:33 left in the first half.

Young did manage to lead the Panthers on a scoring drive late in the second quarter, capping it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Terrace Marshall Jr. That cut the Bears’ lead to 10-7 at halftime. Young also led the Panthers on a field goal drive in the fourth quarter, making it a 13-10 game with 8:14 left in regulation. However, he could not complete the comeback, as he was sacked by Akiem Hicks on fourth-and-10 on the Panthers’ final possession.

Bears offense does just enough to win

The Bears offense was not much better than the Panthers offense, as they also struggled to move the chains and put points on the board. The Bears started Tyson Bagent, an undrafted rookie from West Virginia, at quarterback for the fourth straight game, as Justin Fields remained sidelined with a thumb injury. Bagent completed 15 of 25 passes for 148 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 23 yards on four carries.

The Bears’ running game was led by David Montgomery, who returned from a knee injury that kept him out for four games. Montgomery rushed for 63 yards on 17 carries and scored the Bears’ only offensive touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter. That gave the Bears a 16-7 lead with 4:51 left in the third quarter.

The Bears’ passing game was mostly conservative, as Bagent did not attempt many deep throws. His longest completion was a 23-yard catch-and-run by Darnell Mooney on the Bears’ first drive of the game. Mooney finished with four catches for 49 yards, while Allen Robinson had three catches for 28 yards. Cole Kmet had four catches for 34 yards, and Jimmy Graham had two catches for 21 yards.

The Bears’ offense did not score any points in the fourth quarter, but they did manage to run out the clock on their final drive, thanks to a clutch third-down conversion by Bagent. On third-and-8 from the Bears’ 27-yard line, Bagent scrambled to his right and found Kmet for a 9-yard gain. That allowed the Bears to kneel down and secure the win.

What’s next for both teams

The Bears improved to 3-7 with the win, while the Panthers fell to 1-8 with the loss. Both teams are still far behind in the playoff race, but they will try to finish the season on a positive note. The Bears will face the Baltimore Ravens at home in Week 11, while the Panthers will host the Washington Football Team in Week 11. Both games are scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. ET.

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