ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Let the record show that while the Bears’ defense dominated and Mitch Trubisky was just OK, it was Trubisky and the offense that had the greater degree of difficulty Sunday.
“I cannot begin to tell you how good [the Bills’] defense is,” coach Matt Nagy said. “They’re a really good defense. Our guys knew that. We talked about bringing a lunch pail all week. It was going to be a physical game.”
With that in mind, Nagy was understandably pleased with his second-year quarterback despite mediocre-at-best numbers in a 41-9 rout of the Bills at New Era Field. Trubisky completed 12 of 20 passes for 135 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception for a 76.0 passer rating.
“No. 1, we won — that always is going to be the only thing that matters,” Nagy said. “No. 2, there were times in the game where I just thought [Trubisky] led that team and made plays when we needed him to make plays. And that’s what’s most important as we go through this process with Mitch. He’s [producing] in great situations. I really am just proud of him.”
Trubisky and his offensive teammates were significant but supporting players in the blowout. The offense produced only 190 yards — only the second time since the 2006 Super Bowl season that the Bears have won with fewer than 200 yards. The offense scored 27 points, but the three touchdown drives covered 37, 23 and 50 yards. The Bears were 3-for-11 on third-down conversions.
“I thought it was all right,” Trubisky said. “Obviously, the defense played really good today. They scored for us, and we got short fields from special teams and the defense. We took advantage when we needed to and scored when we needed to. We’ve just got to continue being more and more efficient. But it was a great team win, so we’re all happy with that.”
For Trubisky, it was a learning experience against a tough defense. In the last seven weeks, only the Colts’ Andrew Luck has had a passer rating higher than 85.8 against the Bills.
Even in mediocrity, there were signs of growth. When things weren’t going smoothly, Trubisky didn’t lose his aggressiveness. After rushing for 232 yards on 23 carries (10.1 average) in his previous four games, Trubisky was more determined to look downfield and make plays. It nearly cost him in the first quarter when he fumbled on a strip-sack. But Eric Kush, starting at right guard in place of injured Kyle Long, alertly recovered at the Bills’ 41-yard line.
And he didn’t go into a shell, either, continuing to throw downfield despite the lopsided score. It cost him an interception when he overthrew Trey Burton (“Just sailed on me a little bit,” he said). But he also drew two pass-interference penalties for 90 yards, leading to a field goal and a touchdown. And when the game was scoreless, Trubisky completed a 26-yard pass to Burton at the Bills’ 16 on third-and-15 that set up Jordan Howard’s one-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
All in all, a small step forward that gave Trubisky a chance to eventually take that giant leap. But the number he felt best about was 41-9.
“I feel like we’re in a good spot as a team,” Trubisky said. “But we’re also eager to get into division play. We can’t wait to go back to Soldier Field and try to defend home field. Myself and the guys on our team, we still carry a chip on our shoulder. We’re trying to earn that respect across the league that we are a good team — all three phases — and we can play with anybody. We’re eager to prove ourselves and excited for the opportunities ahead.”