The Bears won their third straight game and maintained their first-place lead in the NFC North with a 34-22 victory over the Lions Sunday at Soldier Field. Here are three things that stood out in the game:
(1) Buoyed by the return of No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson II, the Bears offense was unstoppable early, scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions.
The Bears marched 75, 91 and 71 yards for touchdowns the first three times they touched the ball Sunday and added another TD on their fourth possession after taking over at the Lions' 18 following a Bryce Callahan interception.
The offense was led by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who completed 23 of 30 passes for a career-high 355 yards with three touchdowns, no turnovers and a sparking 148.6 passer rating. He also rushed for a TD. Asked what impressed him most about the second-year pro's performance, coach Matt Nagy said: "He threw the ball on time with conviction."
Sunday marked the second time this season that Trubisky has passed for at least 300 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. Only three other Bears quarterbacks have even accomplished that feat once since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger: Vince Evans in 1980 in a 61-7 win over the Packers, Erik Kramer in 1995 in a 34-28 loss to the Rams and Josh McCown in 2013 in a 45-28 victory over the Cowboys.
After missing two games with a groin injury, Robinson returned to catch six passes for a season-high 133 yards and two touchdowns. "Allen has a really good feel and a good knack of beating press," Nagy said. "You saw a couple guys that got up and tried to jam him and press him. Even in Jacksonville, that's one of the things that stood out to me is, when you pressed him, he's good at beating those releases. He did that yesterday. He got open. He's a big target. When big targets get open, you put it on their body. And then he made some plays after the catch."
(2) The Bears defense continued to dominate, recording three more takeaways and tying a season high with six sacks of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The defense set the tone early with sacks by Callahan and rookie linebacker Roquan Smith on Detroit's first possession. Returning to action after missing two games with a sprained ankle, All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack registered two sacks, one of which came after he steamrolled 6-7, 315-pound tackle Taylor Decker.
The Bears generated multiple takeaways for the eighth time in nine games this season and produced at least three for the sixth time in their last seven contests. Callahan and Prince Amukamara intercepted Stafford, and Amukamara forced a fumble by rookie running back Kerryon Johnson that was recovered by Adrian Amos Jr.
"The sacks, the takeaways, they were still flying around," Nagy said. "Overall, I really liked the way they played. That's three games in a row now that they played well and that's what we need to do in these division games from here on out."
Callahan has turned into one of the defense's top playmakers. This season he has 37 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and six pass breakups. "I've been trying to have blinders and earmuffs, just staying focused," Callahan said. "I'm watching a little bit more film this year, kind of digging more into the opponent."
The Bears lead the NFL with 16 interceptions—double their total from each of the previous three seasons—a plus-13 turnover margin and 89 points off takeaways. They rank second in the league with 24 takeaways and 14 forced fumbles. They have not had a negative turnover differential in any of their first nine games this season for the first time since 1990.
(3) Kicker Cody Parkey* had an incredibly frustrating day, hitting the upright four times while missing two extra-point attempts and two field-goal tries.*
Longtime football observers have never seen a kicker hit the upright four times in a game and may never witness it again. But it happened to Parkey Sunday. "It is a unique situation," Nagy said. "The thing that you always go back to is everybody in this room has had a bad day. We've all had those. He wasn't having a good day yesterday.
"There is a balance of being able to show trust to, 'Hey, get back out there, kick one and make it and get back on track,' and it didn't happen yesterday. Cody understands that, so when we go for two there at the end, he understands. There's a balance, but I just truly believe in being honest. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything and he wouldn't want that from me. We'll have our own conversations and keep it between us, but I'll always handle it as best as I can for the team and for him and then just stick with my gut."
Nagy reiterated that the Bears are not going to audition kickers this week. The coach also indicated that there's "a possibility" that Parkey would practice at Soldier Field at least once during the week, something that he has not done up to this point.
One positive that came out of Parkey's tough day was the support he received from several teammates. "I loved it," Nagy said. "You kidding me? That's who we are. Coming out of there with the win, great, awesome. But those little things, when you see that, to me that just speaks volumes of what kind of people we have, what kind of teammates we have. Whenever you're down and everyone's against you, to have your brothers and your family in there picking you up, ultimately that's good stuff and I like that."
Bears photographer Jacob Funk selected his best photos from the Bears game Sunday against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.