The Bears pulled away from the Browns with a strong second half in recording a 20-3 win Sunday at snowy Soldier Field. Here are three things that stood out in the Week 16 win:
(1) Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky made plays with his arm and his feet, displaying athleticism, accuracy and good decision-making.
The second pick in the draft completed 14 of 23 passes for 193 yards with no turnovers and an 87.8 passer rating and also rushed for 44 yards and one touchdown on seven carries.
Trubisky sustained the Bears' first touchdown drive by scrambling for 11 yards on second-and-14 and eight yards on third-and-six on back-to-back plays. Late in the first half he ran for 14 yards on third-and-10. "I was reacting on the field, and just going through my progressions and nothing was there," Trubisky said. "So I pulled it down a couple of times and picked up what I could get. That's usually when the best plays happen, on the scramble. Nothing premeditated, just quiet feet in the pocket for me going through my progression. When things start to break down, then I use my feet."
Trubisky scored the Bears' final TD on a four-yard run up the middle, breaking a tackle at the 1 and powering into the end zone. The rookie quarterback completed 6-of-6 passes for 62 yards on the drive.
"He played with poise," said receiver Joshua Bellamy. "He played great. He always plays like that, when you just let him take the wheel, when you let him do his thing. He's a playmaker. He's an athlete. You can see what he can do with his legs. He can run the ball. He can throw the ball. He's a great quarterback. He'll be real good."
(2) Cornerback Kyle Fuller delivered his best performance in what's been a resurgent season for him, recording one interception and six pass breakups.
The 2014 first-round draft pick helped contain Browns star receiver Josh Gordon, who was limited to two catches for 19 yards on a game-high eight targets.
"It's as good a game by a corner as I've seen since I've been here," coach John Fox said of Fuller, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. "My hat's off to him because last year was a very frustrating year, especially for him being injured. He's a guy that is at the top of the list every week as far as opponent video, as far as time and hours spent on it. It was no different this week. He had a good understanding of his matchup and some of their splits and routes and whatnot. You only do that with a lot of preparation and real pros do that."
Fuller has now compiled 22 pass breakups this season, tied for the second most by a Bears player since 1991, trailing only Donnell Woolford's 27 in 1992.
Fuller registered his second interception of the season when he picked off a deep DeShone Kizer pass intended for Gordon in the end zone late in the first half with the Bears leading 6-0. "I knew it would be a double move and they would take a shot to put it in the end zone," Fuller said. "That was cool, just capitalizing on that opportunity."
(3) The Bears continued their domination of the AFC North, sweeping the division just like they did the last time they faced the Ravens, Steelers, Bengals and Browns in 2013.
Although they are just 1-10 against NFC opponents this season, the Bears are 4-0 versus the AFC North, defeating the Steelers 23-17 in overtime, the Ravens 27-24 in overtime, the Bengals 33-7 and the Browns 20-3. "I wish we could figure that out with every division, including ours," Fox said. "I think it's just preparation and being able to execute and we just happen to do that both on the road against those opponents and at home."
The last time the Bears swept an AFC division was when they last played the AFC North in 2013. In Marc Trestman's first season as coach, they beat the Bengals 24-21 and Ravens 23-20 in overtime at home and the Steelers 40-23 and Browns 38-31 on the road. Since 2013, the Bears are 8-0 against the AFC North and 19-52 versus all other opponents.
No Bears player has had more success against the AFC North this season than running back Jordan Howard, whose top three rushing performances of the year have been against the Ravens (167 yards), Bengals (147 yards) and Steelers (140). Howard was limited to 44 yards on 22 carries versus the Browns, but he scored two of the Bears' three touchdowns on runs of 2 and 16 yards.