The Bears dominated the Bengals on both sides of the ball in a 33-7 win Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Here are three things that stood out in the Week 14 victory:
(1) Mitchell Trubisky had his best game of the season, performing like the player the Bears envisioned when they traded up to select him with the second pick in the draft.
The rookie quarterback displayed poise, confidence, pocket presence and accuracy in leading the Bears to their most lopsided win since a 51-20 victory over the Jaguars in 2012. He completed 25 of 32 passes for 271 yards with one touchdown, no turnovers and a 112.4 passer rating. Trubisky also scored his first NFL touchdown with a four-yard run on a read-option play.
"He's prepared hard since he's gotten here," said coach John Fox. "Like anything in any walk of life, it takes a minute and some repetitions to get it all figured out. [The NFL is] completely different than college—what to look at, how to do it, how to study, how to prepare. And then the in-game experience. There's little things: get them offside, take a shot down the field, maybe not throw it to the read. We are having the cadence to get them offside. We had a screen pass they smelled pretty well. You may not have time to throw it downfield and you're getting the offensive linemen downfield. You can talk about those and stress in situational practice. But until they happen to you, it's important. You're going to make mistakes in every game, but it's not making the same ones, and that's what really impresses me about Mitch."
Bears photographer Jacob Funk chose his best pictures from the Bears game against the Bengals Sunday in Cincinnati.
The offensive line consistently gave Trubisky the time to go through his progressions and hit the open receiver. He responded by completing passes to eight different teammates.
(2) All four of the Bears' rookie draft picks who played Sunday made major contributions.
Trubisky wasn't the only rookie to deliver a big-time performance against the Bengals. Second-round tight end Adam Shaheen had four receptions for 44 yards and one touchdown. Fourth-round running back Tarik Cohen rushed for 80 yards on 12 carries. And fourth-round safety Eddie Jackson generated two takeaways with an interception and forced fumble.
"We're all rookies and we're all dedicated," Jackson said. "We all want to come out here every day and show these older guys that they can depend on us and we're not going to stop and we're not going to give up because we know better days and greater things are ahead of us."
On the field for only nine snaps a week earlier in a loss to the 49ers, Shaheen made the most of expanded playing time in Cincinnati. "Adam did a great job," Trubisky said. "When I threw the ball his way, he was coming down with it every single time. It was awesome. I guess it was just a tribute to the extra work we put in before and after practice, me and him just getting on the same page."
Cohen continued to show his dynamic playmaking ability with a 29-yard run and a 15-yard touchdown reception that was nullified by a penalty. Jackson generated the game's only two takeaways on back-to-back possessions in the second half. First, he intercepted an Andy Dalton pass that deflected off receiver A.J. Green. Jackson then ripped the ball out of Green's hands after a reception along the sideline and recovered the fumble.
(3) Missing several key players due to injuries, the Bears defense played one of its best games of the season.
The Bengals had scored at least 20 points in their previous five games before being held to single digits by an injury-depleted Bears defense. The unit took the field Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium without Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young, Eddie Goldman, Mitch Unrein, Jerrell Freeman, Adrian Amos and Quintin Demps.
The Bears allowed only 234 total yards and 14 first downs. The Bengals advanced inside the Chicago 25 on only one of 11 possessions in the game. Inside linebacker Danny Trevathan recorded a team-high 10 tackles. Cornerback Kyle Fuller helped limit Green to five receptions for 64 yards on 12 targets with three pass breakups.
Replacements for injured players stepped up as well as outside linebacker Lamarr Houston, defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris and inside linebacker Howard Jones all recorded sacks.