In his first start in 10 weeks, Andy Dalton looked sharp with no signs of rust in helping the Bears edge the Lions 16-14 Thursday in Detroit.
Replacing the injured Justin Fields, the veteran quarterback completed 24 of 39 passes for 317 yards with one touchdown, one interception and an 85.1 passer rating as the Bears (4-7) snapped their five-game losing streak.
Dalton's performance was even more impressive considering that the Bears held only walk-throughs and no regular practices because it was such a short week between games.
Dalton saved his best for last Thursday, calmly setting up Cairo Santos' winning 28-yard field goal as time expired by directing an 18-play, 69-yard drive that burned the final 8:30 off the clock.
"What a credit to Andy Dalton for being able to come in here, not one live rep the entire week and does what he does with that group of guys," said coach Matt Nagy. "It wasn't easy. There were things that we want back. But in the end, that last drive shows who they are. To not give them the ball back, to win the game there is a credit to Andy and the rest of those guys."
It was the 30th 300-yard passing game of Dalton's 11-year NFL career and the most yards by a Bears quarterback since Nov. 8, 2020 when Nick Foles threw for 335 yards in a 24-17 loss to the Titans in Tennessee.
"I think we kind of just reverted back to camp," said tight end Cole Kmet. "A lot of us got reps with him that whole camp, so I felt we were in a good spot. We talked through some things during the week, without really getting live practice reps, and we felt good with where we were at."
Staying hot: Receiver Darnell Mooney posted his second straight 100-yard game, nearly matching his stats from last Sunday's loss to the Ravens. The second-year pro had five receptions for 123 yards Thursday after catching five passes for 121 yards and one TD versus Baltimore.
The second-year pro's only other 100-yard outing of his career came earlier this season, also against the Lions, when he had five receptions for 125 yards in a 24-14 win Oct. 3 at Soldier Field.
Mooney's 52-yard catch in the second quarter Thursday set up Dalton's 17-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham on the next play, giving the Bears their first lead of the game at 10-7 in the second quarter.
Mooney leads the Bears in all receiving categories with 46 catches for 694 yards and three touchdowns.
Big Jimmy: Speaking of Graham, the TD reception was his first of the season and the 83rd of his illustrious 12-year NFL career. The only tight ends with more touchdown catches in league history are Antonio Gates (116), Tony Gonzalez (111) and Rob Gronkowski (90).
Sack attack: Robert Quinn recorded the Bears' only sack Thursday, increasing his team-leading total to 11.0, the third most in the NFL behind only the Browns' Myles Garrett (13.0) and the Steelers' T.J. Watt (12.5). It also gave the Bears 32 sacks this season, the most in the NFL.
As Quinn sacked Jared Goff late in the second quarter, Trevis Gipson punched the ball loose and recovered the fumble. Goff was initially ruled down on the play, but Nagy challenged the call and it was reversed after a replay review. It seems that when the NFL looks at the play, Gipson could split the sack with Quinn.
"I didn't know it came out until I saw the replay," Quinn said. "I told [Gipson] he was zeroed in on it. I don't know how he got it out, but he locked in on it and was able to punch the ball out. He's a young guy, but he's doing a great job trying to fill in his role. As I tell him, I keep expecting more and more out of him. It looks like he's rising to the occasion."
On the shelf: In addition to Fields, other Bears who sat out with injuries were running back Damien Williams (calf), receiver Allen Robinson II (hamstring), defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (ankle) and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (ribs). Other inactives were tight end Jesper Horsted and safety Teez Tabor.
Leaving with injuries: Inside linebacker Roquan Smith (hamstring), receiver Marquise Goodwin (foot) and outside linebacker Sam Kamara (concussion) exited Thursday's game with injuries and did not return.
Welcome back: The Bears defense was bolstered by the return of Eddie Jackson, who had missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury. Jackson recorded three tackles in Thursday's win.
New face: Cornerback Artie Burns made his first start of the season in place of Kindle Vildor, who had struggled in recent games. Burns yielded a 39-yard TD pass from Goff to Josh Reynolds on the Lions' first possession, but the fourth-year pro rebounded to record two tackles and break up a key third-down pass in the third quarter, forcing the Lions to punt.
Watch the Bears' Thanksgiving matchup against the Detroit Lions unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers at Ford Field.