When Mitchell Trubisky walked off the field after leading the Bears to a 24-20 comeback win over the Lions Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, he was happy but not satisfied.
While Trubisky was pleased with the victory as well as his 338-yard, three-touchdown performance, he’s determined to build on the outing Thursday night when the Bears (6-6) host the Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at Soldier Field.
“It feels good,” Trubisky said Sunday after practice at Halas Hall. “You want to duplicate that feeling and then you forget about it and move on and are even hungrier for this week. We already forgot about last week. It was nice to get a win on Thanksgiving. But we play on Thursday night again, so we’ve just have to prepare and stay mentally locked in and get after it again this week.”
Trubisky’s 338 yards against the Lions were a season high. He made excellent decisions and accurate throws throughout the game, especially in completing 10 of 11 passes for 165 yards with two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating on the Bears’ final three drives as they erased deficits of 17-10 and 20-17.
Coach Matt Nagy sees a quarterback who has played better in recent games in part because Trubisky has been laser-focused. But the coach knows there’s still room for improvement.
“He’s in a good mode right now,” Nagy said. “I really like where he’s at, his mentality. It’s been kind of a reset where we’re not happy or getting complacent because of the last couple weeks being better. Let’s keep growing. It’s not where we want to be. We had a better day on offense. We still had our times where we could get better and improve, but let’s not be satisfied with where we’re at.”
One reason that Trubisky was so sharp against the Lions is that because the game was played during a short week, the prep work focused on mental preparation.
“Last week it was all walkthrough and all mental, so I think if we’re locked in mentally, then that’s how it translates to the field,” Trubisky said. “Everyone knowing their jobs. Me knowing the timing of the routes, knowing the spots, seeing the defense pre-snap and just playing fast and not thinking. So if we get it down mentally and just go out there and play and hopefully you’ve just got to put in the work and make sure to execute and do our jobs.”
Trubisky did just that in Detroit, especially in the second half. With the Bears trailing 17-10, he connected on 6 of 6 passes for 84 yards on a 9-play, 80-yard drive that he capped by lofting an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jesper Horsted, tying the score 17-17.
After the Lions had taken a 20-17 lead on Matt Prater’s 24-yard field goal, Trubisky masterfully engineered a game-winning 9-play, 90-yard drive that he concluded with a 3-yard TD pass to running back David Montgomery with 2:17 remaining. Trubisky completed 4 of 5 passes for 81 yards on the drive, including 35- and 32-yarders both to receiver Anthony Miller to convert crucial third-down plays.
“I feel like I did what I was supposed to do,” Trubisky said Sunday. “I did my job, and that’s kind of what I expect just going forward.”
The Bears were successful on 5-of-10 third-down plays against the Lions and will place a huge emphasis on that aspect of the game this week as they prepare to face a Cowboys defense that ranks third in the NFL in third-down efficiency.
“We’ve just got to win our one-on-one matchups,” Trubisky said. “I’ve got to maneuver the pocket. The o-line has got to do a great job in protection and we’ve just got to make plays. I think if we can dictate the tempo somehow and control third down and stay in third-down-and-manageable, then hopefully we can get some conversions and make that a positive for this game.”