CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears weren’t too concerned about appearances. All that mattered was that they came out on top.
D’Onta Foreman ran for a touchdown and the Bears boosted their shot at the top pick in the draft, beating the Carolina Panthers 16-13 on Thursday night.
“At the end of the day, man, all the hard work we put in, even with it not being pretty it still feels amazing,” Foreman said. “You know what I mean?”
The prime-time matchup between teams among the bottom five in the NFL delivered about as much drama as expected. But Chicago (3-7) made enough plays to come away with the victory.
The Bears also boosted their chances at the No. 1 pick because they have Carolina’s first-rounder in 2024. They acquired the pick along with Moore last March for the top selection this year. The Panthers (1-8) are tied with Arizona — which plays Atlanta on Sunday — for the worst record in the NFL.
Foreman gave the Bears a 16-10 lead in the third quarter with a 4-yard run. Chicago was up by three with 1:40 remaining in the game when Carolina’s Eddy Pineiro missed a 59-yard field goal, the ball landing well short of the goal post. The Bears sealed the win when Darnell Mooney caught an 8-yard pass on third-and-seven at the 48.
Moore caught five passes for 58 yards against his former team.
Tyson Bagent completed 20 of 33 passes for 162 yards in his fourth straight start with Justin Fields sidelined because of a dislocated right thumb. The Bears are 2-2 with the undrafted rookie from Division II Shepherd University in West Virginia in the lineup.
Fields hasn’t played since he exited a Week 6 loss to Minnesota. Eberflus has said repeatedly he remains the Bears’ No. 1 quarterback. But he wouldn’t say if he expects Fields to return next week at Detroit.
“We’ll see where it is,” Eberflus said. “It’s a big week to make that evaluation, so we’ll see where it is. When Justin’s healthy, he’ll be our starter.”
Cairo Santos kicked three field goals. The Bears got their pass rush going, sacking Bryce Young three times. It was a big improvement for a team with a league-low 10 through the first nine games.
“They got swagger,” said defensive end Montez Sweat, who had three quarterback hits in his second game since a trade-deadline deal from Washington. “All these guys, I really love kind of like the plug and play. I’m really going along with them trying to figure out the energy that they’re bringing.”
Carolina’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. But Young, coming off his worst game as a pro, had another rough outing. The No. 1 draft pick this year, he was 21 of 38 for 185 yards with a 68.4 rating, after throwing three interceptions and having two returned for scores in a loss to Indianapolis.
Adam Thielen caught six passes for 42 yards, and the Panthers fell to 0-5 on the road.
“We have to be better,” Young said. “Our defense, great game, start to finish. We have to be better. I have to be better first and foremost. I have to be a lot better.”
The Bears grabbed a 16-10 lead midway through the third on a 4-yard run by Foreman — who spent last season with Carolina — to cap a 38-yard drive after pinning the Panthers deep in their own territory. Chicago opted not to try a 2-point conversion to go up by seven.
Carolina got a big opportunity late in the third, taking over at the Chicago 40 after Trenton Gill shanked a punt. The Panthers got pushed back 20 yards to start the drive because of back-to-back penalties, then got to the 20 before Pineiro kicked a field goal to make it a three-point game early in the fourth.
The Panthers led 10-9 at halftime even though the Bears outgained them 205 yards to 97. Chicago ran 42 plays, but settled for three field goals by Santos.
Smith-Marsette, who played part of last season in Chicago, gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when he returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown. He broke a tackle by Josh Blackwell, cut through the middle and used a hesitation move to get past punter Trenton Gill for his first career TD return.
Chicago answered with a 54-yard field goal by Santos. Former Bear Pineiro kicked a 33-yarder early in the second quarter to make it a seven-point game. Santos booted two more field goals, hitting a 36-yarder with just over three minutes left and 39-yarder as time expired, to make it a one-point game.
Neither team reported an injury.
Panthers: Host Dallas on Nov. 19.
Bears: Visit Detroit on Nov. 19. ___
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl