How to get Justin Fields onto the field wasn't the issue Sunday for the Bears.

Fields had to play, and he looked every bit the inexperienced rookie quarterback he is.

Fortunately for Chicago, Fields had help from a defense which looked every bit the way it had in 2018 as the Bears held on for a 20-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

"Last week obviously wasn't to our standard and we came out and we made a lot of plays this week," Bears linebacker Roquan Smith said.

The defense produced four takeaways a week after being dominated in the opener by the Rams. However, they all had to deal with a twist of fate to get through this one.

With quarterback Andy Dalton out just before halftime due to a knee injury, Fields came on and threw for 60 yards on 6 of 13. But that came with an interception to Logan Wilson that nearly gave the Bengals a chance to rally for a win.

However, the Bears managed to kill off the clock thanks to a key first down run by Fields and then another up the middle by David Montgomery. They allowed a remarkable effort by the defense to stand.

"Those guys, I'm so proud of them," Bears coach Matt Nagy said of the defense. "They took it personal. They were a little pissed off how it went last week (in Los Angeles). They weren't happy about it."

On four successive Cincinnati possessions in the second half, the Bears took the ball away. After an Eddie Jackson strip and Tashaun Gipson fumble recovery, they had interceptions of Joe Burrow by Roquan Smith, Jaylon Johnson and reserve defensive lineman Angelo Blackson. 

The picks came on three straight Burrow passes to turn a tight game into what looked to be a blowout in the fourth quarter.

"That was pretty sweet," Smith said. "They say when it comes, it comes in bunches."

Smith returned his interception for a 53-yard touchdown, his first TD return since high school, and the Bears led 17-3. After Blackson's first career interception off a deflected pass by blitzing Alec Ogletree, Cairo Santos kicked a 22-yard field goal to make it 20-3.

"That was wild to me," Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks said. "To have all those plays in succession was like, 'how's this happening?' "

Then it got scary for the Bears after the interception Fields threw to Wilson. The Bengals had already shaved the deficit to 20-10 on a 42-yard TD pass from Burrow to Ja'Marr Chase.

"So that was just a great play call by the defense, and you know, they showed cover-zero and they popped up linebackers right where I was supposed to throw the ball, and I can't really do anything about that," Fields said. "But just got to move on and keep getting better."

The interception gave Cincinnati the ball at the 7 and Burrow immediately hit Tee Higgins for a TD over the middle with 3:39 remaining. But then first-down runs by Fields and Montgomery sealed it.

Before coming out, Dalton went 9 of 11 for 56 yards and had staked the Bears to a 7-0 lead on an 11-yard TD pass to Allen Robinson. Hee came out just before halftime following two scrambles and a sack.

"I didn't even see it but he was untouched when he went out of bounds, hurt himself a little bit there," Nagy said. "He came out the next series and I noticed on some -- he took a sack and I saw he was kind of limping a little bit.

"So you know, we got it looked at and then he went in at halftime and then coming back out; he was our backup, but he would have been able to go in an emergency."

Instead Fields finished and he was fortunate to need only a short field to get scores.

The first one was a 28-yard field goal by Santos after the fumble recovery and return by Gipson. Fields' highlights included a perfect 21-yard strike to Darnell Mooney to set up a field goal.

His problems included a fumble on a sack, but he recovered it. And he committed a pair of false start penalties.

"Rookie mistakes," he said.

The Bears aren't sure the extent of Dalton's injury, and he had been able to throw on the sidelines just before the third quarter but was too sore to play.

"I mean, you're constantly told, be ready, you never know what may happen and it happened," Fields said. "Of course, Andy came out and then I just got thrown in. So I think I was pretty prepared but there were definitely mistakes made out there and I'm just going to go watch the film and learn from those

mistakes."

It's possible he and the Bears may have no other choice, when they go to Cleveland next Sunday.

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