Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen strips the ball from Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky. (AP)

Tricks help, but mistakes doom Bears to 20-17 loss in Trubisky’s debut

SHARE Tricks help, but mistakes doom Bears to 20-17 loss in Trubisky’s debut
SHARE Tricks help, but mistakes doom Bears to 20-17 loss in Trubisky’s debut

With the play clock running out midway through the first quarter, the Bears took a timeout on fourth-and-two from the Vikings’ 38.

They ran out the punt team. Then the punt team ran back to the sideline.

Then rookie Mitch Trubisky and the offense lined up, only to watch the play clock run out.

It was a comedy of errors — and, coach John Fox said, not the Bears’ fault. The officials, he said, didn’t have a ball ready.

“It’s kinda hard to play without a ball,” Fox said.

The Bears proceeded to give that ball away twice in a 20-17 loss Monday to the Vikings. While the quarterback and the vibe around the team felt different, the culprits were the same: turnovers, penalties and self-inflicted wounds.

Trubisky’s game-deciding interception was a rookie mistake. With the game tied and 2:32 to play, he threw right, toward Zach Miller, only for it to be picked off by Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Seven plays later, with 12 seconds left, Kai Forbath made a 26-yard field goal.

Forbath’s first 26-yarder — the Vikings’ only points in the first half — also came off a Trubisky turnover. He fumbled when he was sacked by Everson Griffen at the Bears’ 13. The No. 2 overall pick went 12-for-25 for 128 yards with one touchdown — a tipped pass that landed in Miller’s arms with 12:24 to play — and one interception. His passer rating was 60.1.

If Trubisky was supposed to raise all boats, his teammates didn’t rise with him.

On the second play of the second quarter, running back Jordan Howard broke off a 42-yard touchdown run, but it was nullified by a holding penalty on wide receiver Markus Wheaton.

“There were a lot of penalties,” guard Kyle Long said. “We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”

The Bears were flagged eight times for 55 yards and were whistled early — center Cody Whitehair’s holding penalty wiped out a 26-yard completion to Tre McBride that would’ve given the Bears the ball at the Vikings’ 9 on their first drive — and late. When the Bears seemingly forced a field-goal attempt after a third down with 1:53 to play, Leonard Floyd was called for defensive holding.

“We gotta play football and have our eyes in the right place, so we don’t make the same mistakes,” linebacker Pernell McPhee said.

In between the two flags, the Bears kept the game close, starting with Floyd’s safety sack of Sam Bradford in the first quarter. Bradford, making his first start since a Week 1 knee injury, was soon replaced by Case Keenum, who posted a 110.3 passer rating.

The Bears’ first touchdown came on a trick: Punter Pat O’Donnell threw a 38-yard touchdown pass, the Bears’ longest completion of the season, to Benny Cunningham on a fake punt. Their two-point conversion after Miller’s touchdown involved a reverse, then an option pitch from Miller back to Trubisky, who ran it in to tie the score.

Then came the interception, and a predictable result.

“They were penalized more times and for more yards than we were,” Fox said. “So I really think the difference was primarily the turnovers.”

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com


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