Mitchell Trubisky had his most prolific passing day in over a year on Thanksgiving, ending his strongest month of the season.
For the second week in a row, Trubisky walked off the field with a win and a new season-high for passing yards. On Thursday, Trubisky completed 29 of 38 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns.
“I just feel like I’m doing my job,” said Trubisky. “It’s my job to get the ball to the playmakers. Whatever the defense gives us, I’ve got to put the ball in the right spot. Especially when everyone else does their job.”
Trubisky had not led the Bears to an opening drive touchdown in the first 12 games of the year. After a 57-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson, the offense started the game at the 50. Trubisky sliced through the Detroit Lions’ defense, completing all four passes for 31 yards and finding Allen Robinson II on an inside slant for the score.
For a team that has struggled to find points in the first half, it was an entirely new look.
“There was a good vibe coming in today,” said Trubisky. “You could just feel it in the locker room before we headed out. Guys were ready to play. We made some mistakes in the game that we need to correct, but overall it felt like a good vibe just going out there.”
The offense hit a snag after the first drive with two three-and-outs. A 60-yard drive stalled out on a chaotic fourth-down conversion attempt, and the half ended with a field goal after Trubisky was stopped short of the first-down marker on a third-down scramble.
Things may have hit their lowest point for Trubisky when he was picked off well into Lions territory on the Bears’ first possession of the second half. In the previous five weeks, the drives coming out of halftime had been Trubisky’s best. Still, the quarterback wasn’t rattled by the miscue.
“Can’t have it back,” said Trubisky, “so you’ve just got to move on and make plays from there. I thought we responded very well as an offense. I thought I responded. I wasn’t even worried about it, just go back out there and continue to battle.”
After the defense held the Lions to a three-and-out, Trubisky responded by marching the Bears down the field for an 80-yard drive. Trubisky completed all six passes he attempted on the drive, accounting for 88 yards. Even an illegal block call, which cost the Bears 10 yards, couldn’t slow down Trubisky.
The drive was punctuated by an excellent catch by Horsted, who only two weeks ago was a member of the practice squad. Nagy said that Horsted wasn’t the first option on the play, but he was pleased with the result.
“We kind of got lined up pretty quickly,” said Trubisky. “We gave them a look that we haven’t shown before, so a little play-action, I guess with the fake toss, everyone kind of overflowed to the right side, so Jesper ran a good route, beat his guy that was covering him, and I just put it in a spot where he could make a play. He made an awesome catch, so it was pretty cool that he got his first touchdown today.”
Down by three with six minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Trubisky engineered another near-perfect drive on the back on two deep throws to receiver Anthony Miller, who recorded a career-best 140 receiving yards on the day.
“We like Anthony on corners,” said Trubisky. “He ran a great route, the O-line did a great job of giving me time, and I just put it in a spot where he could make the play, and he made a huge play for our offense.”
The Bears were finally able to punish an opposing defense for double-teaming Robinson, allowing Miller to exploit man coverage.
Trubisky described his final touchdown to running back David Montgomery as having a similar setup to his earlier throw to Horsted: everyone flowed to the right.
“They weren’t expecting that,” said Trubisky, “and we didn’t even practice that all week. Sometimes it just happens, you go out there and make a play and trust that your guys will be in the right spot and we found it.”
After the play, Nagy told Trubisky, “that’s what special players do right there.” The day was a vindication of sorts for Nagy, who has told reporters the past few weeks that he saw improved play by his quarterback.
With the Bears in third place in the division, likely needing to win out to have a chance at the playoffs, Trubisky said that motivation would not be an issue through the last four weeks of the regular season.
“You always have something to play for,” said Trubisky, “especially when you play for your brothers every single day, coming to work, just keeping it fun, just believing, staying true to the process. We put ourselves in a good position to have another big game next week. We just have to continue to stick together, just keep grinding, stay humble, continue to work hard.”
Trubisky said that the feeling of winning, felt for the third in four weeks, would drive the team to finish the year strong.
“I think we’re just hungry at this point to continue to get that feeling that you feel after you win. We just have to keep that hunger and just continue to get better and find ways to grow. We’re getting closer, but we’re not there yet.”