Bears rookie QB Tyson Bagent shows off his moxie — and inexperience

On his third snap, the Bears’ undrafted rookie quarterback playing for injured Justin Fields lost a fumble on a strip-sack. On his last snap, he was intercepted. But in between, Bagent provided a little intrigue by giving the Bears something it didn’t look like they had — a chance to win.

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Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent looks to pass the ball during the third quarter.

Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent looks to pass the ball during the third quarter.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Playing in an NFL regular-season game for the first time, Bears rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent noticed the difference. But not that much of a difference.

This wasn’t the preseason. And it certainly wasn’t Shepherd University. Exactly one year after he rallied Shepherd to victory in the second half against Millersville before a home crowd of 6,471 fans, Bagent was at it again on the NFL’s big stage Sunday — against the Vikings before a Soldier Field crowd nearly 10 times the size (62,167) and in a moment even more exponentially bigger than he’s used to.

But it was still football, a game he’s played hundreds of times.

“Football’s football,” Bagent said. “The football feels the same size. [It’s] 11-on-11. You’re either going to run the ball or pass the ball. So I thought it was similar [to the preseason] but different, with the different pressures they were throwing.”

In an eventful NFL debut, Bagent showed off the moxie that transformed him from a post-draft flyer to the Bears’ No. 2 quarterback, but also the inexperience that spoiled a fairy-tale story with a dose of NFL reality in a 19-13 loss to the Vikings.

On his third snap, Bagent lost a fumble on a strip-sack that turned into a Vikings defensive touchdown. On his last snap, he underthrew DJ Moore on a deep ball and was intercepted. But in between, Bagent provided a little intrigue by giving the Bears a chance to win — after it didn’t look like they had one.

“He just doesn’t flinch — that’s the biggest thing,” rookie wide receiver Tyler Scott said. “He had command of the huddle. He had command of the offense. He just has this confidence about him.”

In back to back drives, Bagent was in control as the offense was building momentum toward an unlikely comeback. He was 4-for-4 for 55 yards on a nine-play, 77-yard touchdown drive, scoring on a sneak to cut the deficit to 19-13.

Suddenly, the game had turned in the Bears’ favor. The defense was energized, forcing a three-and-out on the Vikings’ ensuing drive. The offense was energized, as the Bears drove to the Vikings 35-yard line with 2:05 to go.

But on first down, Bagent saw an opportunity and went for the big play, but his pass under pressure to Moore inside the 10-yard line was underthrown and intercepted by cornerback Byron Murphy.

“DJ Moore, one of the best receivers in the world one-on-one — anytime we can get that, we like it,” Bagent said. “Underthrew it a little bit. That’s on me, and that’s something I gotta fix.”

Bagent was 10-for-14 for 83 yards with no touchdowns and the one interception for a 56.5 passer rating. But by the eye test, he showed enough to keep the No. 2 job — and start Sunday against the Raiders if Justin Fields can’t go.

“We’ll evaluate that,” coach Matt Eberflus said, almost reflexively. “We believe in Tyson. We had him No. 2 for a reason, and we feel strong about that. Once he got settled down . . . you could see what he can do.”

Bagent was glad that his father, a couple of friends and his godparents were at Soldier Field to see him play. But the game overrode any reflection he had in the aftermath.

“Just wanting a couple of those plays back. Would have liked a different outcome in the game,” Bagent said when asked about the emotion he was feeling. “After you think about that, [I’m] just extremely grateful for the life I’ve been blessed with — not a lot of people get to do what I do, in victory over defeat. Super thankful for my family [and] all my past relationships to help me get to this moment.”

But . . .

“But first [I’d] like to get back to the drawing board and get a couple of those plays back and correct it for next week.”

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