The Bears offense seemed to be on the verge of a breakout performance, but the unit exceeded even the loftiest expectations with a record-breaking outing Sunday.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw six touchdown passes to fuel a 48-10 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tying for the second most in Bears history behind only Hall of Famer Sid Luckman's seven TDs in a 1943 win over the New York Giants.
"[Trubisky] made some special throws, which I thought was great," said coach Matt Nagy. "When you're able to make those throws like he did today, good things happen."
In staking the Bears to a 38-3 halftime lead, Trubisky became the first player in franchise history to throw five touchdown passes in a half.
In the first two quarters, Trubisky completed 14 of 18 passes for 289 yards and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He threw TD passes of 39 yards to tight end Trey Burton, 14 yards to receiver Allen Robinson II, 9 yards to running back Tarik Cohen, 20 yards to receiver Joshua Bellamy and 3 yards to receiver Taylor Gabriel.
"You could see what type of quarterback [Trubisky] is with the throws he made today," said Cohen, who rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries and caught seven passes for 121 yards.
On their five first-half touchdown drives, the Bears ran just one third-down play and scored in an elapsed 2:40, 3:34, 2:34, 1:46 and 3:12.
"Today was one of those games where everything was clicking," Nagy said.
Trubisky picked up in the second half right where he left off in the first, rifling a 3-yard TD pass to Gabriel to increase the Bears' lead to 45-3. The touchdown came after Danny Trevathan intercepted a Jameis Winston pass and returned it 12 yards to the Bears' 40. Winston replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick to start the second half.
"This is what we can do when we're rolling," said Burton, who had a 47-yard reception in addition to his 39-yard touchdown.
Trubisky completed 19 of 26 passes in the game, setting career highs with six touchdowns, 354 yards and a 154.6 passer rating. He also rushed for 53 yards on three carries including gains of 26 and 23 yards.
Not surprisingly, Trubisky credited his offensive line after the lopsided victory.
"It all started up front," Trubisky said. "I thought our O-line played fantastic today—playing together, giving me time, keeping it clean—and we just got open.
"Coach Nagy called a great game, and there was just great execution all the way around. When all 11 guys are on the same page and you start to see things clicking, that was kind of the breakthrough that we were hoping for and what we expected to do on offense."
The Bears defense played another stellar game, registering three takeaways and four sacks against a Buccaneers offense that entered Week 4 ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total yards and passing yards and was averaging 34.0 points per game.
Khalil Mack registered a strip/sack for the fourth time in as many games this season and deflected a pass that resulted in an Aaron Lynch interception. Trevathan and Eddie Jackson also picked off passes for the Bears, whose eight interceptions in four games match their total in each of their three previous seasons.
With the victory, the Bears (3-1) won their third straight game for the first time since they started 3-0 in 2013. They also remained in first place in the NFC North, a half-game ahead of the Packers (2-1-1), who defeated the Bills 22-0 Sunday in Green Bay.
The 48 points were the most the Bears have scored since a 51-20 win over the Titans Nov 4, 2012 in Tennessee, and their 38-point margin of victory was the most since Oct. 7, 2012 when they also won by 38 points, beating the Jaguars 41-3.
The Bears will now head into their bye week after their best performance of the season on offense and their most complete game in all three phases.
"Coach has been preaching that [the offense was] going to come around," Trevathan said. "We knew it as a defense. They came out here and lit it up from start to finish. That's what you like to see. On the defensive side of the ball, practicing with them, you love to see the guys like that go out and execute. They work so hard for it."