LAS VEGAS — You can’t lose with Justin Fields. He’s Bears-proof.
They tried, of course, and he overcame all their dysfunction Sunday to beat the Raiders 20-9 for a win that could be his first step toward making this more than merely a transition season for the Bears.
That’s why they drafted him, whether or not they realized it. He can offset a poorly planned offensive line, musical-chairs play calling and completely confounding misuse of timeouts. The Bears can do everything wrong, and Fields is talented enough to make it right.
That’s an incredible responsibility to put on a rookie quarterback making his third start, but it looks like they picked the right guy.
It was touch and go from the start in Las Vegas.
Fields appeared to be ill on the sideline after taking a hit in the back at the end of the Bears’ second possession, and at one point a staffer put a trash can in front of him as though he was about to vomit.
After several minutes of coach Matt Nagy and head trainer Andre Tucker tending to him, Fields went back in the game and resumed the mad scramble that is his life in the pocket.
On one of those scrambles, Raiders defensive end Yannick Ngakoue grabbed at his feet and caused Fields’ left knee to bend the wrong direction.
The Raiders sacked him twice and hit him three other times in the first half, which ended with Ngakoue blasting him the moment he finished his drop-back. The Bears were at the Raiders’ 44-yard line and hoping to sneak a field goal before halftime, but that ended it.
The Bears began that drive in favorable position at their own 40 with 50 seconds left, except they had no timeouts. They burned one less than eight minutes into the game after giving up a 29-yard pass, used another on second-and-one at the Raiders’ 11 and were forced to take one on a point-after to avoid a delay-of-game penalty after confusion amid trying to get the right players in the game.
Fields fought through it with the help of a strong running game to lead two touchdown drives in the second quarter. He ended the first by zipping a pass to No. 5 tight end Jesper Horsted, who was only active because other players were out.
That’s another deficiency Fields is trying to navigate: The Bears’ tight ends have had negligible impact in the passing game.
Fields finished 12 of 20 for 111 yards and a touchdown for a season-high 91.9 passer rating and ran three times for four yards.
To the Bears’ credit, the one thing they’ve done for Fields is give him this defense.
While they’d rather move past the score-17-points-and-pray-it’s-enough approach, it’s nice to know the defense is still strong enough to make that plan viable if necessary. It’s incredibly helpful cover as Fields finds his footing.
The Raiders, who came in as the No. 9 scoring team in the NFL, could barely move the ball. They had five three-and-outs and made it into Bears territory just three times in nine possessions.
It was the 29th time in the last four seasons the Bears held an opponent under 20 points.
When the Raiders finally broke through for their first touchdown with 9:05 left to cut the Bears’ lead to 14-9, the pressure was on Fields to answer. On third-and-12 from his own 27-yard line, with the Raiders on the cusp of wresting control of the game, he threaded a pass to Darnell Mooney for 13 yards despite four defensive backs guarding the first-down line.
The Bears kept going and got a 46-yard field goal from Cairo Santos to deaden the Raiders’ push for a comeback and take an eight-point lead.