Bears QB Mitch Trubisky’s first playoff game should be remembered as a good one
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The moment belonged to quarterback Mitch Trubisky and coach Matt Nagy.
Down one point to the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles.
Forty-eight seconds left.
And the ball on the Bears’ 42 after a great kickoff return by Tarik Cohen.
“[Trubisky] looked at me, and he gave me a smile,” Nagy said. “I just told him, ‘This is where the story begins.’ And he did it.”
Trubisky completed a 25-yard pass to wide receiver Allen Robinson between defenders to move the Bears to the Eagles’ 33. An eight-yard completion to Robinson came next.
The Bears had their first playoff victory in years within reach thanks to Trubisky. After a spiked ball and a quick shot through the end zone to wide receiver Anthony Miller, all that was needed was a 43-yard field goal from kicker Cody Parkey.
But then came a tip and a doink . . . and another doink.
After an ice-the-kicker timeout by the Eagles, Parkey missed, unbelievably hitting an upright for the sixth time this season. Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester told reporters afterward that he got his left hand on Parkey’s kick, which also ricocheted off the crossbar.
Either way, the Eagles closed “Club Dub,” and it won’t reopen for months.
The Bears’ turnaround season ended with a heartbreaking 16-15 loss in the wild-card round Sunday at Soldier Field. Trubisky didn’t get the storybook finish he deserved.
“It doesn’t always go the way you want it to,” said Trubisky, who was 26-for-43 for 303 yards and a touchdown.
“And that’s life. That’s football. There is a crazy, like, finalizing thing about football when you come up short.”
That sense of finality stung Trubisky, who stood by Parkey, as others did in the Bears’ locker room. But Trubisky’s growth this season — his second in the NFL and his first with Nagy — was obvious.
It was there for all to see against the Eagles. Trubisky put the Bears in position to win with 10 seconds left. He also gave the Bears a 15-10 lead early in the fourth quarter with his 22-yard touchdown pass to Robinson.
“No one — not one person —truly knows how far that kid has come this year [more] than me, and we’re lucky,” Nagy said. “We’re lucky to have him. I’m looking forward to the future. I really am with him. The city of Chicago is lucky to have that kid at quarterback.”
At times, Trubisky seemed destined to have as uninspired an outing as the Texans’ Deshaun Watson and the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson had in their playoff debuts, both losses.
Trubisky nearly threw two interceptions in the second quarter. On the first, rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox failed to get two feet inbounds.
Safety Tre Sullivan later dropped Trubisky’s worst throw of the game: a forced pass into the end zone off a scramble with less than 20 seconds left in the half and the Bears at the Eagles’ 23.
“He actually came to me and said, ‘I can’t do that,’ ” Nagy said.
Trubisky’s story changed in the second half. The Bears’ offense got aggressive, attacking the Eagles’ secondary with double moves and pump fakes from Trubisky.
“We all believed,” he said.
Trubisky went 13-for-20 in the second half for 198 yards. On the Bears’ only touchdown drive, he went 3-for-4, including his best throw of the game — a 19-yard completion to Taylor Gabriel on third-and-11 with Eagles All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox barreling his way.
“This season and the experiences like that in the end are definitely just going to motivate me even more for the future,” said Trubisky, who tweaked his heel on a scramble in the first half. “I’m hungrier than ever.”
Trubisky then said he wanted to get back to work.
You could tell that he meant it.
“I thought I got better,” Trubisky said. “But I’m just scratching the surface, hopefully.”