DETROIT – Bears receiver Anthony Miller wasn’t exactly thrilled with how he performed in the first half of Thursday’s Thanksgiving game against the Lions, so he did something about it in the second half.
After dropping one pass and being limited to 30 yards on four receptions in the first two quarters, Miller exploded for 110 yards on five catches in the final two periods, helping the Bears rally for a 24-20 victory.
“What I’m thinking about was the first half I had,” said the second-year pro. “I think it was horrible. I think it’s one of the worst halves I’ve had since I’ve been playing in the league. That stuff has to be corrected first. I just told myself, ‘Just do what you know you can do,’ and that’s what I did.”
Miller made two huge receptions that sustained the Bears’ game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky put perfect touch on a pair of passes to Miller that resulted in gains of 35 yards on third-and-four and 32 yards on third-and-five.
“[Trubisky] was very impressive,” Miller said. “He showed a lot of poise. Mitch studies a lot, he works hard, so it doesn’t surprise me when he accomplishes things.”
In the Bears’ last three games, Miller has caught 20 passes for 371 yards.
Catch this: Jesper Horsted has had quite a week. The undrafted rookie tight end caught his first NFL pass Sunday against the Giants and followed with his first pro touchdown Thursday versus the Lions.
Horsted hauled in a perfectly-thrown 18-yard TD pass from Trubisky, tying the game 17-17 with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter. A wide receiver at Princeton, he hung onto the ball with Lions safety Will Harris draped all over him.
“I knew I had a deep cross type deal and I saw that I had man coverage right out of my stance, which was really nice,” Horsted said. “It helped me identify the coverage. I knew that he was playing outside and I knew it was kind of just a race to the spot between me and [Harris], so I knew where I needed to go and I looked up and Mitch had delivered a perfect ball. It was well defended too and I just was not going to let that one go. I knew I wasn’t going to drop that one.”
Arrow pointing up: Inside linebacker Roquan Smith seemingly has improved with each passing game over the last month or so, and that trend continued Thursday.
Smith recorded a team-leading and career-high 15 tackles and two sacks. His second sack came on a well-timed blitz up the middle when he dropped Lions quarterback David Blough for a 13-yard loss on third-and-9 with :36 to play.
“It was just a good play call by coach (Chuck Pagano),” Smith said. “I somehow came through lucky. Me and [fellow linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski] worked together on that and I somehow got free, so it was pretty sweet.”
Smith is the third player in NFL history to compile at least 15 tackles and two sacks in a game, joining linebackers Vinny Rey and Patrick Willis.
Too many flags: The Bears were assessed 10 penalties for 89 yards, including some that were costly. They ran 15 plays on one first-half drive but turned the ball over on downs after flags on receiver Javon Wims for a block in the back and right guard Rashaad Coward for a facemask resulted in first-and-32.
On the Lions’ final possession of the game, Smith drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting Blough out of bounds, giving Detroit a first down at the Bears’ 27 with :51 remaining.
“If there’s a negative to the game, which there’s a lot of positive, but the improvement we need to make is the penalties,” said coach Matt Nagy.
Nagy news: Last year Nagy became the first Bears coach to sweep the Lions in his first season as coach since George Halas retired in 1967. Nagy repeated that feat this year and is now 4-0 versus Detroit.
The Bears also improved to 3-1 against NFC North rivals this season and 8-2 in two years under Nagy. They were 3-15 versus division foes in the three seasons before Nagy was hired.
Talking turkey: The Bears have now won three straight Thanksgiving games for the first time since they won five in a row from 1930-34. They defeated the Packers 17-13 in 2013 and the Lions 23-16 last year ... The Bears are now 19-15-2 all-time on Thanksgiving, including 10-8 versus the Lions … The Bears scored more than 23 points for the first time in 12 Thanksgiving games, last surpassing that total in a 31-14 win over the Lions in Detroit in 1977.
And finally: The Bears rushed for 88 yards on 23 carries, improving to 4-1 when they gain at least 75 yards on the ground. They’re 2-5 when they fail to reach that plateau … The Bears won for the first time this season when allowing at least 20 points, improving their record to 1-3 in those games.