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Bears, QB Mitch Trubisky finally find their groove in 31-24 victory against Cowboys

At some point, someone on the Bears had to wonder: Where in the world has this been all season?

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky runs for a touchdown against the Cowboys.
Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky runs for a touchdown against the Cowboys.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The question had to pop into the Bears’ heads during their 31-24 victory Thursday against the Cowboys at Soldier Field.

Maybe it was when quarterback Mitch Trubisky decided to keep the ball on a read-option play from the Cowboys’ 23, planted his left foot at the 17, broke a tackle at the 10 and galloped into the end zone in the fourth quarter.

Or perhaps it was when receiver Allen Robinson caught one of his two touchdown passes in the first half. Or when rookie running back David Montgomery ran for 86 yards, the second-highest total of his career.

At some point, someone had to wonder: Where in the world has this been all season?

The Bears didn’t just run a competent offense in their last-gasp showcase against the Cowboys in prime time. They put together a downright dangerous attack — the kind they’ve been pleading for all season — to improve to 7-6.

Trubisky finished 23-for-31 for 244 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a 115.5 passer rating. A week after he played his best game of the season on Thanksgiving against the Lions, he delivered again.

‘‘For me, it’s like an ‘aha’ moment,’’ Montgomery said. ‘‘You see somebody work so hard day in and day out. A lot of people kind of jumped ship on [Trubisky], but coach [Matt] Nagy always preaches about staying together as one. . . . I’m just happy for him and happy that he’s our quarterback.’’

Trubisky was the orchestrator against the Cowboys. He made mistakes, of course — throwing an interception at the front left pylon of the end zone to end the Bears’ first drive — but he followed them with success rarely seen in the first half of the season. The Bears scored on their next four possessions and didn’t punt until midway through the third quarter.

‘‘He’s just been a leader,’’ receiver Anthony Miller said of Trubisky. ‘‘A lot of people have been down on him, calling him this, that and the third, but we’ve been rocking with him in this locker room. We’ve always had confidence in him. Coach has confidence in him.’’

One week after beating the Lions, Trubisky sparked the offense against the Cowboys, who had allowed the eighth-fewest yards and ninth-fewest points per game.

‘‘Top of his game right now,’’ running back Tarik Cohen said. ‘‘He has total confidence in himself and everybody around him.’’

Trubisky ran for a 23-yard touchdown and finished with 10 carries for 63 yards. That was good for the second-most in his career.

‘‘Coach called a great game,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘We were out there doing our jobs. That’s when football’s fun.’’

Nagy said the success was the result of the entire offense, not just Trubisky. But he knows they go hand-in-hand.

‘‘Mitch knows throughout the season that he could have played better,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘I’ve talked about trying to find that identity; we were searching for it. The last several weeks, we feel good about where we’re at. Are we perfect? No.’’

But they’re better. The Bears tied a season-high with 31 points, but they had many more style points. The offense looked the way it did last season: creative, well-timed and egalitarian.

• Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson caught his first pass in a month, a weaving, slalom run of a catch-and-run that ended 33 yards later.

• Tight end J.P. Holtz more than doubled his career receiving yardage by halftime, catching three passes for 56 yards in the first two quarters. The Bears’ previous-best game by a tight end this season was 24 yards.

• Miller, who led the Bears with seven receiving touchdowns in 2018, caught his first touchdown pass of the season, a screen he muscled into the end zone in the third quarter.

• And rookie receiver Riley Ridley caught his first career pass.

Perhaps the offensive surge was too little, too late. Maybe the season was lost after kicker Eddy Pineiro’s missed field goal against the Chargers, after Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater dismantled the Bears’ defense or after the offensive humiliation at the hands of the Eagles.

And perhaps it won’t matter. The Bears need to be perfect for the rest of the season just to give themselves a playoff prayer.

But the Bears can take solace in something they discovered Thursday: Their offense might have arrived late this season, but it did arrive.

‘‘We’re almost there,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘We’ve got to keep getting better.’’