By ANDREW SELIGMAN Sports Writer AP
CHICAGO – Justin Fields got his first extended look as a pro. And it could be a long term arrangement.
Fields played the second half after Andy Dalton left with a knee injury against his former team, and the rookie quarterback used Chicago’s stellar defensive performance to lead the Bears to a 20-17 victory over Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Roquan Smith returned a interception 53 yards for his first career touchdown, one of three straight picks thrown by Burrow and four back-to-back takeaways for the Bears during the breakout streak of their first win of the season.
Fields took over in Chicago’s last practice in the second quarter after appearing in a handful of games before that. But the biggest key for the Bears was the defense that rebounded after being parted by Matthew Stafford in a season opener loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
“I don’t think I’m happy at all with the way I played,” Fields said after throwing for 60 yards. “I think there is a lot more to me that I need to show. I know there will come a time. I know it won’t happen overnight, so I’m going to keep fighting. No matter what, I know I was made for it. I’m supposed to be here.
Dalton was injured on a 14-yard rush early in the second quarter. Fields took the last three shots of this possession.
Dalton was in the next move, before Fields led Chicago’s final halftime. Dalton made a few warm-up shots at halftime, but did not return to the game.
Coach Matt Nagy has said Dalton is available in an emergency. He also said he was “pretty sure” Dalton didn’t have a serious ACL injury, although the quarterback was due for further examination in the coming days.
But would Dalton start if he was able or Fields?
“I’m not going to go into any of this,” Nagy said.
The Bears were leading 20-3 before Burrow pitched a 42 yard touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase. The fields then have intercepted at Chicago 25 by Logan Wilson, who made it to 7. Burrow hit Tee Higgins for a 7 yard TD on the next game, cutting it to 20-17 with 3:39 remaining. But the Bears held on for their third straight victory over Cincinnati (1-1).
Fields, who made five games in Game 1, completed just 6 of 13 assists. The No. 11 draft pick also ran for 31 yards.
“I’m just anxious to see what I missed and what I need to do better,” Fields said. “I didn’t play well in my eyes.”
“I’ll be ready,” Fields said.
Dalton, facing his former team for the second time in as many seasons, threw a touchdown pass to Allen Robinson. The triple Pro Bowler, who led Dallas to a victory at Cincinnati last year, completed 9 of 11 passes for 56 yards.
Robinson caught his 40th career touchdown when he landed an 11-yard shot in the game’s first possession.
Robert Quinn had two sacks, giving him 2 1/2 this season after he had just two last year.
Burrow never threw more than one interception in his first 11 outings as a pro, and his 38-game record for Ohio State and LSU was two. He threw three in this one.
The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner was 19 of 30 for 207 yards and two touchdowns, having set career highs in passer rating (128.8) and yards per attempt (9.67) in an overtime win against Minnesota.
“It’s just me trying to force the ball to try and get something to move forward,” he said. “You learned a lesson today that when your defense plays as well as it is, you don’t have to force those balls. You just let the game come to you.”
BEARS TAKE CONTROL
The Bears (1-1) led 10-3 after Cairo Santos kicked a 28-yard field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter that was set up by the fumble Tashaun Gipson.
Smith made it a 14-point game when he jumped to retrieve a short pass intended for Tyler Boyd at 47 and came back to the left sideline.
Jaylon Johnson got his first career interception on Cincinnati’s next possession. After Chicago kicked, Angelo Blackson got his first as a pro deep in Bengals territory on a ball that teammate Alec Ogletree deflected. This led to another field goal for Santos, bringing the score to 20-3.
“I think in our first week we didn’t have the kind of performance we wanted,” said defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. “And throughout the week the focus was on bringing in those characteristics – energy, passion, playing hard throughout the snap, having those things as messages during the week. And just before the game, we remembered that this is what our defense should look like. Then we went out and showed it today.
Bear: NT Eddie Goldman (knee) was inactive after missing the first game. He stepped down last season due to concerns over COVID-19.
Bengals: Visit Pittsburgh on September 26.
Bear: Visit Cleveland on September 26.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.