For the second week in a row, the perception of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at halftime was radically different than it would be at the end of the game.
Last week, Trubisky entered halftime having completed less than half of his passes for 110 yards. On Sunday, he jogged into the locker room with 159 yards and two touchdowns, having completed 13 of 18 passes.
If the final two quarters last week and the first two quarters Sunday were in the same game, Trubisky would have put together one of the best games of his career: completing 25 of 34 passes for 301 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.
Just as his three-touchdown fourth quarter obscured his difficult start against the Detroit Lions, two quarters of stalled drives against the New York Giants took some of the shine off an otherwise good day. Trubisky completed 5 of 10 passes for 31 yards and two interceptions in the second half.
The fourth-year quarterback had mixed feelings about the game.
"When you play really well in the first half and put up 17 points," said Trubisky, "and then don't put up any points in the second half, I think that's a little frustrating. We have a little higher expectation for what we're trying to do on offense this year. But you have to be happy with the win."
Trubisky led an 82-yard drive to begin the game, topping it off by finding running back David Montgomery in the flat and watching the second-year running back scamper into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown.
"We knew when we got closer to the red zone, they were going to drop eight," said Trubisky, "so I was just looking to find completions. When they were only rushing three, I just extended the play with my feet and drew a linebacker out of coverage. David did a great job staying alive, and then the run after the catch was incredible. We gotta keep making plays like that, and I think the third-down conversions earlier in the drive helped us get to that point."
After struggling on third down against the Lions, the Bears converted 7 of 10 tries in the first half. The first conversion came with a 17-yard strike to receiver Allen Robinson II on the game's third play.
"Allen's a big-time player," said Trubisky, " and we know in third-down situations, if I put the ball up in his area, that he's going to go up and make plays for this offense. So that really jump-started our first drive, and we ended up scoring a touchdown on that drive."
Robinson has long been Trubisky's primary target. However, the veteran receiver had a quiet day by his standards, catching only three passes for 33 yards. Trubisky spread the ball around to a degree not seen since December 2018, completing passes to 10 different players.
"In order to stay on the field, you're going to need guys to make plays," said Trubisky. "That's O-line, quarterback, receivers, tight ends. You're going to have to throw into tight windows, and you're going to have to make tough catches, but that's just what we expect. If you want to have a great offense, that's just the expectation across the board."
Trubisky's first half was not without blemish. The offense failed to fully capitalize on the opportunity created by a Robert Quinn strip-sack deep in Giants territory. The Bears had to settle for a field goal after a third-down end zone throw went through the hands of receiver Anthony Miller.
Coach Matt Nagy said that the blame does not rest on the quarterback.
"That one throw he made to Anthony Miller in the end zone, that was a dime," said Nagy. "I mean, he dropped an absolute dime on that throw. Anthony didn't come down with it. That's how this game goes. But that was a helluva throw that Mitch made right there, and that was a big-time play."
Nagy was also impressed with Trubisky's improvisational skills. Both touchdown throws came off extended plays, including a pass to rookie Darnell Mooney late in the first half, with Trubisky using his feet to scramble the coverage.
"That's a credit to him," said Nagy. "When you get a team that likes to drop eight a lot, and I don't know if that was necessarily that play, but sometimes you'll have that where they just want to zone you out and make you make plays. And that last one happened to be one there where I thought Mitch did a good job at extending the play, and then he gave his guy an opportunity to make that touchdown catch."
The game ended with the Giants running out of time at the Bears' 10-yard line. With clock management at such a premium, Trubisky's most consequential completion was an accident: a tipped fourth-down pass that landed in the hands of right tackle Bobby Massie. The new set of downs allowed the Bears to run nearly two minutes off the clock before the Giants could begin their last drive.
Trubisky holds himself accountable for the two interceptions he threw in the second half. The first came off a tipped ball after Trubisky threw into coverage on a comeback route. The second was the result of the ball slipping through Robinson's hands into the clutches of Giants cornerback James Bradberry.
Trubisky gave credit to the Giants defense, vowing to correct the mistakes of the second half.
"You always got to give credit to the defense when they're making plays and getting off the field," said Trubisky. "We can't turn the ball over. That's myself, and the whole offense included. I just got to make good decisions, not put the ball in harm's way and stay on the field. But it's definitely us staying in a rhythm, us staying aggressive and everybody staying on the same page, us having that mindset that we got to go out and finish."