QB Trubisky does just enough in Chicago Bears victory
As well as Bears QB Mitch Trubisky had played in posting a 101.6 passer rating through the first 10 weeks of the season, he had yet to perform at a high level against a quality defense like the one the Vikings brought to Soldier Field for Sunday night’s first-place showdown in the NFC North.
He still hasn’t; but Trubisky and the Bears’ offense benefited from what may be the NFL’s best defense – at least it was through 3 ½ quarters. The Bears’ defense took the ball away three times and scored its fourth pick-6 of the season, this one by S Eddie Jackson that clinched a 25-20 victory, but not before a late Minnesota rally.
The victory elevated the Bears to 7-3, put them in control of the division and dropped the second-place Vikings to 5-4-1. The Packers’ Thursday night loss left them at 4-5-1, while the Lions, who the Bears play Thanksgiving Day, are 4-6.
Minnesota’s defense was No. 5 in the NFL in total yards allowed entering the prime-time game and No. 3 in rushing yards allowed, and in their last game, the Vikings piled up a franchise-record 10 sacks. But the Bears’ defense was better.
While Trubisky had passer ratings of over 100.0 in four of his previous six games, he also had a 76.0 mark against a stout Bills defense in Week Nine and a 69.8 rating in the 38-31, Week Seven loss to the Patriots. This game looked a lot like those two mediocre games.
“It wasn’t always pretty on offense,” Trubisky said. “But we just grinded it out and did what we had to do and it was a great team win.”
Trubisky’s numbers were not attractive. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 165 yards and was picked off twice while throwing one TD. But, considering the opponent, Bears coach Matt Nagy was satisfied with Trubisky’s performance.
“Offensively we did enough to win,” Nagy said. “This (Vikings) defense is one of the best in the NFL. It was an extreme challenge for us.”
Despite a lackluster second half, Trubisky fired a dart to Allen Robinson for a 17-yard gain on third-and-8 with less than 4:00 remaining that helped the Bears run out the clock.
“Allen ran a hell of a route, and the O-line did a great job up front giving me time,” Trubisky said. “I just put the ball in the right spot, where it needed to go, and everyone else did their job.”
Though he played efficiently into the third quarter, Trubisky air-mailed a pass intended for Robinson late in the third quarter, and he was picked off for the second time by S Anthony Harris, who tacked on a 33-yard return to the Bears’ 31-yard line.
Fortunately for the home team, its defense, and especially OLB Khalil Mack, answered the challenge. They limited the Vikings to a 37-yard Dan Bailey filed goal that left the Bears with a 14-3 lead on the final play from scrimmage of the third quarter.
After a Tarik Cohen fumble at his own 30-yard line on the next Bears possession, the defense came up huge again. The Vikings settled for Bailey’s 36-yard field goal that left the Bears with a 14-6 lead and 11:46 remaining.
Trubisky completed 12 of 14 passes for 92 yards in a ball-control first half and ran six times for 37 yards to give the Bears a 14-0 lead at halftime in the NFC North showdown. Trubisky finished with 43 yards on 10 rushes to help keep the Vikings’ pass rush at bay. He was sacked just once.
“He used his legs when he needed to,” Nagy said. “He’s playing with confidence.”
Trubisky overcame the earlier interception by Harris, which came on the second play of the second quarter, the next time he got his hands on the ball. He led an 82-yard TD drive with his arm and his legs. He carried three times for 28 yards to set up his 18-yard TD pass to rookie WR Anthony Miller.
The second-round pick from Memphis scooped a low throw off the turf for his fifth TD, tying him for the team lead with TE Trey Burton. The Bears were successful on the two-point conversion when Trubisky rolled right and fired a strike to Josh Bellamy at the back of the end zone for an 11-0 lead.
On the Bears’ next possession, they kept it conservative with three short Trubisky passes, but it was enough to position them for Cody Parkey’s 41-yard field goal and a 14-0 lead.
Trubisky’s first possession stalled in the red zone, so the Bears settled for Parkey’s 33-yard field goal, which was received with ear-splitting approval from the Soldier Field crowd. A week earlier Parkey missed four kicks, two field goals and two extra points at home. So, for the first time, he traveled to Soldier Field twice during the week to practice at night in an attempt to simulate game conditions.
The only down side to the Bears’ huge victory was that there is no time to replay it and bask in the glow.
“We can’t even watch this,” Nagy said. “It’s on to Detroit.”