The Bears kicked off a challenging stretch of three games against NFC North opponents in 12 days by making a major statement Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Dominating on both sides of the ball, the Bears scored touchdowns on their first four possessions in racing to a 26-0 second-quarter lead en route to a 34-22 win at Soldier Field.
In the first half, Mitchell Trubisky completed 14 of 16 for 209 yards with two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He also scored a TD on a four-yard quarterback draw. The second-year pro finished the game connecting on 23 of 30 passes for a career-high 355 yards with three TDs, no turnovers and a 148.6 rating.
"I thought Mitch probably had his best game of the season, without a doubt," said coach Matt Nagy. "He was on fire, he was efficient, threw the ball with conviction, his eyes were great. I'm really super proud of him for coming out here and playing that way. He played confident, and I like that."
Returning after missing two games with a groin injury, Allen Robinson II caught three passes for 98 yards and one touchdown in the first quarter alone. The veteran receiver had six receptions for 133 yards and two TDs in the game.
"It was big," Nagy said of Robinson's return. "It's a confidence thing. Any time you have a guy that's played the game as long as he has and he's able to give a security blanket to Mitch, he's a big target. You can put the ball in his area and he's either going to get a PI or come down with the football."
Nickel back Bryce Callahan fueled the defense in the first half, recording a sack and an interception that he returned 12 yards to the Detroit 18. The turnover led to Trubisky's TD run that gave the Bears a 26-0 lead with 8:14 left in the first half.
The score would have been 28-0 had Cody Parkey not missed two extra point attempts, hitting the right upright on one try and the left upright on another. Remarkably, Parkey hit the right upright two more times, missing 41- and 34-yard field goal attempts on the Bears' first two possessions of the second half.
The Bears opened the game by marching 75, 91 and 71 yards for touchdowns on their first three drives, which were capped by scores on Tarik Cohen's 3-yard run and Trubisky passes of 36 yards to Robinson and 45 yards to rookie Anthony Miller (5 catches for a career-high 122 yards).
The Lions cut the deficit to 26-10 on Kerryon Johnson's 1-yard touchdown run late in the first half and Matt Prater's 52-yard field goal early in the second half.
The Bears widened the margin to 34-10 on Trubisky's 26-yard touchdown pass to Robinson coupled with Trubisky's two-point conversion pass to Trey Burton.
The Lions closed the gap to 34-22 with two TDs in :39. The scores came on Matthew Stafford passes of 5 yards to receiver Kenny Golladay with 8:30 remaining and 13 yards to running back Kerryon Johnson with 7:51 to play after Detroit had recovered an onside kick.
The Bears defense recorded three takeaways and six sacks, including two by Khalil Mack, who returned after missing two games with an ankle injury.
"Our defense becomes better when he's in there, but our defense is pretty good when he's not in there," Nagy said. "So the biggest question of him coming into this game was how was he going to hold up health-wise, and it seemed like he did pretty well."
With their third straight win, the Bears (6-3) extended their lead atop the NFC North over the idle Vikings (5-3-1), who will visit Soldier Field for a first-place showdown next Sunday night. The Bears also snapped a 10-game losing streak against division opponents and surpassed last year's victory total.
"It's excellent to see both sides of the ball being dominant," said defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. "On offense running down the field, at some point you want to tell them, 'Don't score so fast, we just came off!' But the offense has something real nice going and our defense is playing at a high level."