CHICAGO — Coming from one of the smallest schools to ever produce a quarterback in the National Football League, Chicago Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent proved that his first start on football’s biggest stage was not too big of an occasion to handle — and thrive in. And just like that, the City of BRoad Shoulders have a new favorite gridiron hero, even if most didn’t know he, nor his college, existed just a few months ago.
Bagent, an undrafted free agent out of Division II Shepherd University in West Virginia, led three touchdown drives in his first NFL start as the Chicago Bears defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 30-12 inside Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon. D’Onta Foreman rushed for two touchdowns and also caught Bagent’s first career touchdown pass, while the Bears’ defense held the Raiders out of the end zone until the final minute while scoring a touchdown of its own, a 39-yard interception by Jaylon Johnson to cap Chicago’s scoring.
The quarterback-starved town saw its latest bit of misfortune last week when regular starter Justin Fields dislocated his thumb during the home loss against the Minnesota Vikings, forcing Bagent into his first regular season action. With a full week to prepare for his first NFL start, Bagent admitted to being nervous for it, far from a surprising admission given that, at this point last season, he was getting prepared to take on, and defeat, the West Chester (Pa.) University Golden Rams.
Bagent, however, was mistake-free in going 21-for-29 passing for 162 yards and no turnovers, utilizing a series of short throws and keeping the game plan simple.
“Where I come from, I’ve got a bunch of friends, a bunch of family, that understood how big this was just in a life,” said Bagent, a West Virginia native. “Not a lot of people get to say they started in an NFL game, let alone win an NFL game. Definitely had a lot of those conversations today. I think the staff understood it, too, and the players. That’s why everybody rallied behind me as well as they did.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Sunday afternoon’s contest, with all photos taken by Las Vegas-area photographer Arnie Bazemore. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 24 pictures in total.