DENVER — Mitch Trubisky probably didn’t change a lot of skeptical minds Sunday. But give him credit for one thing: In a moment of desperation with time running out and the Bears’ fate on the line, the third-year quarterback summoned the focus and moxie to turn a shaky, disconcerting performance into a winning one.
On fourth-and-15 from his own 40 with nine seconds left and the Bears trailing the Broncos 14-13 at Empower Field, Trubisky stepped up and fired a pass to Allen Robinson for a 25-yard gain with one second to play. It led to Eddy Pineiro’s 53-yard field goal as time expired for a 16-14 victory.
“It’s crazy. Definitely an emotional roller coaster,” Trubisky said. “I was just saying to myself, ‘I’ve got to find a completion,’ because we’ve been in that position before and I didn’t necessarily do what I needed to do. But a couple of things went our way. You make one throw to put us in position and you just gotta believe that that play can be the difference in the game.”
It was on this day. Trubisky’s operation of the entire eight-second play on the throw to Robinson was something to be proud of. But it didn’t erase the unimpressive performance that was notable, only for avoiding the disastrous turnover. Trubisky again was rarely if ever in sync against Vic Fangio and the Broncos’ defense.
He completed 16 of 27 passes for 120 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions for a 70.0 passer rating. Until the final drive, he had thrown for 90 yards.
“I’ve always been taught that quarterbacks are evaluated by how they finish games,” coach Matt Nagy said, putting the best spin possible on Trubisky’s day. “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. But to me, I’m just proud of him, that he made the throw at the end.”
Trubisky had the same accuracy issues that dogged him in training camp and the season opener against the Packers. But on the final play, he was a quarterback — having a plan, thinking on his feet and taking advantage of the defense’s own desperation and indecision.
“I knew it was going to be the last,” Trubisky said. “I liked our call. I just knew I had to buy a little more time to let the middle open up. I knew it wasn’t going to be open right away, but if you kind of delayed, they kind of play soft and [back] off as time goes. I think as a defense you just want the clock to run out. I climbed the pocket, Allen was there. He got down and we had enough time to call time out.”
“When it comes down to the end, we just found a way,” Trubisky said. “It wasn’t just me having that pass. It was the O-line with the protection. The guys getting open and everybody believing that we can get in position. And special teams doing great [with Eddy making the kick of the game.”
But as big of a play as it was, Trubisky knows it was just one play. In one game.
“People are going to say what they’re going to say,” Trubisky said. “I know I’ve still got a long way to go. But my job is to help my team win games. It wasn’t the prettiest, but we [won] and I helped put ‘em in a spot to let Eddy boot that one through.
“You feel good about that. But we’re going to look at the film and know that we’ve still got a ways to go. I gotta keep improving and making sure that I continue to put this team in a good place to allow us to win games.”