3 and Out: Justin Herbert lights up Bears defense in 30-13 loss on Sunday Night Football

Chicago Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent throws a pass during the first half  against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif.

Rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent threw two interceptions and not a whole lot went right in the Bears’ 30-13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football. Here’s what you need to know:

Three moments that mattered

1. All night long: It didn’t take long for the Chargers to get on the scoreboard. Running back Austin Ekeler took a screen pass 39 yards for a touchdown, aided by a badly-missed tackle by linebacker T.J. Edwards. It was a sign of things to come for the Bears defense.

2. Can’t believe it: With 5:14 left in the first half, Bagent had Velus Jones primed for a no-doubt 40-yard touchdown. Despite falling down in the end zone, the throw was perfectly catchable for an NFL-caliber wide receiver and he flat out dropped it. Jones, who has a pretty minimal role as it is, can’t afford those moments to justify his active status on game day moving forward. Bagent should’ve been rewarded with a TD.

3. Never know, but: On the first play of the game, Bagent connected with Darnell Mooney for a 41-yard strike. Mooney didn’t appear to be touched on his diving attempt for the catch, which could’ve resulted in the play continuing for more yardage (and likely a touchdown). The officials inexplicably blew the play dead, and the drive ended with a punt.

Three things that worked

1. TE1: Kmet didn’t record a catch last week against the Raiders, but was obviously a security blanket for Bagent this week. Kmet had 10 catches on 10 targets for 79 yards. The scoring plays haven’t decorated his weekly stat lines very much, but he’s been very reliable, no matter who is at quarterback.

2. Darnell Wright: The rookie, who has labored with a shoulder injury, led a perfect pull toss that resulted in the Bears’ first touchdown on the night, a 11-yard sweep to Darrynton Evans to make it 17-7 Chargers with 1:47 left in the first half. Overall, Wright has played quite well in recent weeks and has been a pleasant, consistent force with some of the premier pass-rushers going against him.

3. Play to the whistle: After Bagent’s second interception, the Bears defense forced a fumble by Zaach Pickens with 6:25 remaining in the game. It was an ill-advised decision by Justin Herbert to dump it off anyway, but Pickens and the Bears defense eventually fell on top of it. It gave field position to an eventual touchdown.

Three things that didn’t

1. Super Herbert: Chargers QB Justin Herbert threw 15 consecutive completions before his first near-mistake on a dropped interception. It only got worse for the Bears defense. Herbert was 21 for 25 with 212 yards and three TDs at halftime and finished 31 of 40 for 298 yards.

2. Make a play: It’s a unit-wide issue, but the tackling effort was alarmingly poor. Edwards, cornerback Tyrique Stevenson and others all had spotlight moments where missed tackles led to sizable gains or scores. The Chargers finished with 352 total yards, had 20 first downs, were 7 of 13 on third down and put 30 points on the board. The Bears also didn’t sack Herbert all night, although, Edwards did get a huge shot on him toward the end of the third quarter. Bottom line: It’s a defense that doesn’t make enough plays to consistently win football games.

3. Bagent’s mistakes While Bagent overall showcased solid anticipation and probably quieted questions about his arm strength for deep throws, his two interceptions were definite sore spots. The first, Chargers defensive back Ja’Sir Taylor made a quick break on a dig route for the easy play. The next, a ball ricocheted off of Mooney, but wasn’t an ideal target on the play.

What’s next?

The Bears visit the New Orleans Saints next Sunday, Nov. 5. Kickoff is at noon.

Jacob Bartelson

Jacob Bartelson

Jake is a full-time sports reporter writing primarily for the Kane County Chronicle covering preps. His collective work is featured across several Shaw markets and platforms, including Friday Night Drive and Bears Insider. Jake began full-time in 2017.