The Chicago Bears’ 16-13 win over the Carolina Panthers marked the second time in the common draft era that a No. 1 overall rookie quarterback faced off against a starting undrafted rookie free agent quarterback.
The UDFAs moved to 2-0 on Thursday night.
Tyson Bagent led the Bears to the victory over Bryce Young’s Panthers. In the only other such matchup, Devlin Hodges started for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 23-17 victory over Kyler Murray’s Arizona Cardinals in Week 14, 2019.
“It is what it is. The draft happened. However it went is how it went,” Bagent said after the win, via the team’s official transcript. “I just try to show up every day and continue to try and get better every year. Like, I don’t think I’m at the peak of anything. I’m just looking forward to continuing to get better and then let the ball fall where it may.”
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That’s a very mature response from the 23-year-old, Shepherd University product.
Bagent certainly didn’t wow Thursday night, completing 20 of 33 passes for 162 yards, but he avoided mistakes that destroyed the Bears’ chances.
“It wasn’t the prettiest performance,” receiver DJ Moore said. “But we found a way to win. And that’s all that matters in this league.”
The key play came with 1:26 left and Chicago clinging to a three-point lead. Carolina used its final timeout, so the Bears could have run the ball and taken 40 seconds off the clock before punting it away with little time left. However, Chicago called a pass for the undrafted rookie, who made a gutsy throw between two defenders to Darnell Mooney for the game-sealing first down.
D’Onta Foreman powered the Bears’ offense Thursday night, allowing Bagent to play a complementary role. That’s the way most coaches want it from their backup quarterback. Bagent’s play in place of Justin Fields — helping Chicago go 2-2 in their last four starts — ensured the rookie can have a lengthy NFL career as a backup, at least. (After all, Nathan Peterman was still kicking around the sideline as a backup QB Thursday night in Chicago and did far less in his five career starts.)
If Fields returns to the lineup against Detroit in Week 11, Bagent will head back to the bench knowing he put a solid foot forward.
“No doubt. Going out with a win is obviously fantastic for the team,” he said. “Yeah, I don’t know if this is it. You know, nothing really changes for me with the preparation and how I’m going to attack every week, but I learned that it’s really hard to win in the NFL. I appreciate all the wins.
“Just really I appreciate the team, staff and players included. They’ve all rallied behind me extremely well. I never had a doubt for a second that they all had my back.”
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