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Rookie Tyson Bagent leads Chicago Bears to their 1st home victory in more than a year

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Week seven of the NFL season concludes tonight, but for fans who tuned in to today's Bears Raiders game, many are asking the same question - where on earth did Tyson Bagent come from?

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

The rookie quarterback got his first start when the Bears go-to QB was sidelined with a thumb injury, and he definitely rose to the occasion. He completed more than 20 passes. And more importantly...

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Tyson Bagent, most important stat is no giveaways.

SUMMERS: Bagent had flown under most people's radar, in part because NFL scouts have a strong preference for Division 1 players. The 23-year-old rookie hails from little old Division 2 Shepherd University, home to just over 3,000 students.

KELLY: Last night, though, he captured the hearts of all of Bears nation as he led Chicago to their first home victory in more than a year. Here's the call on Fox Sports.

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UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER #1: Bagent on the run, throws on the sideline, the catch made by...

SUMMERS: Now, it isn't out of the ordinary for rookie quarterbacks' eyes to get as big as saucers in their first game and for their nerves to be through the roof. So last night, the Bears coaching staff decided to use the young QB's adrenaline to his advantage and took the ball first. Here's Bagent speaking to reporters after the game.

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UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST: Your coach told me that he chose to receive the ball to start the game because he wanted to calm the nerves of his young quarterback. Tyson, was there one second today your nerves needed to be calm?

TYSON BAGENT: Definitely had nerves today. I appreciate coach looking out for me.

KELLY: OK. So to be clear, Bryant didn't put up Hall-of-Fame-like numbers. It was instead his grit and composure that left announcers impressed.

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UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER #2: But he threw a touchdown by checking it down underneath, got him out of a jam a couple of times with his legs. He played a clean game.

KELLY: And the victory was made even sweeter for Bagent when he received the game ball.

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BAGENT: Hey, y'all had my back from the jump, man. You know, we had adversity last week, Justin going down. And, you know, right from the get, y'all had my back, so I couldn't appreciate y'all anymore, couldn't have did that without y'all today. And glad we could go out there and get a good one.

SUMMERS: While the Bears' regular quarterback remains sidelined for now with that thumb injury, Bagent's performance did have one unintended side effect - it unleashed a firestorm in Chicago sports media over who the Bears' starting quarterback should be on a permanent basis.

KELLY: Last night, Bagent had some advice for players who feel overlooked because of the name of the school on the front of their jerseys.

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BAGENT: Man, I was just, you know, I always resort to just the work that needs to be done. Don't ever stop working. Don't ever let anybody's opinion stop you from chasing what you want.

SUMMERS: So the pride of Shepherd University will likely have a few more chances to make his case for the starting role and to put his school on the map. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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