Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Matt Barkley faced adversity right away in his first career NFL start but nearly had the comeback of the season.
With Barkley making his first start, the Bears didn’t shy away from the playbook as they took a few shots down the field early on. The first came on the opening play of the game, when Marquess Wilson was able to draw a 33-yard pass interference penalty.
But even with good field position, the Bears drive stalled with a turnover on downs after Barkley’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Chicago got the scoring started on their next drive as Barkley found tight end Daniel Brown for a 7-yard touchdown. It was the first career touchdown pass for Barkley and the first career TD reception for Brown.
After that it was all Tennessee, as the Titans went on to score 27 unanswered points in the 27-21 victory.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota orchestrated five scoring drives, making it look easy at times against the Bears defense. Chicago had no answer for the second-year quarterback who was excellent once again, completing 15 of 23 passes for 226 yards, 2 TD and no turnovers (126.4 QB rating), while adding 46 yards on the ground.
The red zone was a big factor for both teams and helped the Titans propel to victory.
Mariota threw two red-zone touchdown passes on Sunday, giving him a total of 32 in his career. Even more impressive is the fact that Mariota hasn’t thrown an interception in the red zone in his career.
He finished with three touchdowns including a 29-yard strike to Rishard Matthews, who beat two Bears safeties on the play.
Barkley threw two red zone interceptions in the game, as he finished 28-of-54 for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Despite falling behind by 20 points, Barkley and the Bears offense didn’t concede in the second half. Instead, they battled back and almost pulled off the comeback.
Chicago cut the lead to six points in the fourth quarter when Barkley threw an 8-yard touchdown to Marquess Wilson and then a 6-yard touchdown pass to Deonte Thompson.
But key drops by Joshua Bellamy and Thompson in the end zone ended the late-game threat and sealed the deal for the Titans.
The Bears will return to Soldier Field in Week 13 to host the San Francisco 49ers, as both teams jockey for draft position inside the Top 5.