LAS VEGAS – When the game was on the line and the Bears needed to pick up first downs, they turned to a pair of rookies.
One was – obviously – quarterback Justin Fields. But the other was rookie running back Khalil Herbert.
When the Las Vegas Raiders scored to cut the score to one possession late in Sunday’s game, the Bears needed to eat up clock and flip the momentum. They handed the ball to Herbert again and again in the fourth quarter of a 20-9 victory over the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.
With starting running back David Montgomery sidelined by a knee injury for the next several weeks, the brunt of the load is going on Herbert’s and Damien Williams’ shoulders.
“Man, I was telling [Herbert] all game, especially coming out in the second half, ‘This is on you now,’” Williams said. “I gave my blows, the first blows in the first half. Now, it’s your turn to go ahead and get your blows in. But I felt like, as a young kid, coming into this environment, he held himself great.”
Herbert finished with 75 yards on 18 attempts. Williams carried the ball 16 times and totaled 64 yards and a touchdown.
Games like Sunday were exactly why the Bears brought in Williams as a free agent over the offseason. They knew they needed a quality No. 2 back behind Montgomery. They added Herbert in the sixth round of the draft, giving them running back depth they haven’t had in several years. This was Herbert’s first real chance to prove he’s the right person for the job.
Williams scored his touchdown late in the second quarter, spinning his way past a defender one-on-one. Fields handed off to Williams, who bounced to his left.
“We talked about all week, if it bounces out, you’re going to be one-on-one with the corner,” Williams said. “That’s all I was thinking, being one-on-one with the corner.”
He executed a perfect spin move and bounded into the end zone virtually untouched.
“When I saw that, I just stood there and I was like, ‘Yo, that was crazy,’” Fields said. “I wish I could do that.”
As a team, the Bears totaled 143 rushing yards, while their defense held the Raiders to 71. The Bears have committed to the run in the past two weeks with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor calling plays. They often had several tight ends on the field, and even used offensive lineman Alex Bars as a sixth linemen numerous times throughout the game.
“When we get the run game going like that, it’s tough on opposing defenses,” said tight end Jesper Horsted, who caught a touchdown pass in the game. “I was glad the offensive line was able to do that, plus the running backs and tight ends.”