The first quarter of Sunday’s Bears victory over the Lions followed the same frustrating script that had plagued the team all season: a listless offense getting booed off the field. Trubisky’s accuracy remained an issue, the switch at center from James Daniels to Cody Whitehair hadn’t worked and the Bears had only one drive in which they didn’t punt, a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended in Ben Braunecker’s first career touchdown. Nonetheless, heading into the locker room, the Bears held only a 7-6 lead against a Lions team that was without Matthew Stafford and with a defense ranked 24th in defensive DVOA.
The script flipped in the second half though, with the offense coming to life in a way it hadn’t all season.
“Just finish,” Allen Robinson said of the halftime message. “Let’s keep our foot on the gas and finish. We had been able to find some success in that second quarter and get some completions. As long as we continue to string some completions together we’ll continue to make plays.”
Trubisky hit Allen Robinson for a 33-yard pickup to the Lions’ 40 on the second play of the half, a throw that Nagy was sure to point out on Monday.
The one that never got talked about, the best throw of the game yesterday was the one he threw to A-Rob down the left sideline when he got hit. Not a lot of guys make that throw.”Matt Nagy
The scoring would cease from that third touchdown, allowing the Lions to slowly crawl back into the game. The two sides exchanged punts on six straight possessions before Jeff Driskell hit Kenny Golladay for a 47-yard touchdown to bring Detroit within seven. The Bears had a chance to respond, but the offensive line, which had been a problem all day, gave up an eight-yard sack on 3rd & 11 to force a Bears punt with 3:31 remaining. A Detroit comeback would be particularly devastating for the Bears when their offense finally played with some life.
Two plays and 31 yards later, Trubisky hit Tarik Cohen on a swing-pass for only the Swiss Army Knife’s second touchdown of the season. It was a confidence-building drive for both Trubisky and the Bears offense, but so was the opening second-half drive of the Chargers game. The Bears had to keep it going.
The ensuing Lions drive ended with Nick Kwiatkowski intercepting Lions’ backup quarterback Jeff Driskel, giving the Bears another shot to capitalize on their momentum. The Bears ran a man coverage-beater out of a bunch formation, and Taylor Gabriel found himself wide open on a corner route to the endzone. Trubisky placed it in a spot he’d failed to all season, and just like that, the Bears had three touchdowns on the day.
“He ran a fantastic route,” Trubisky said on Sunday. “O-line did a great job giving me time, and got man coverage and he beat his guy, turned him around and I just put it in a spot where he could run underneath it. Just awesome route, awesome execution.”
But the defense held and forced a turnover on downs, giving the ball back to their offense with 2:18, and a chance to finally ice this game away.
But they couldn’t! The Bears went three-and-out and gave the Lions yet another chance to knot things up with 1:41 remaining. The defense once again did its job, as they had done almost all day, giving the Bears reason to re-open Club Dub after a 20-13 victory. The losing streak ended at four, and the Bears may have taken a step toward getting back on track.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better,” Trubisky said of the win. “We’ve just got to keep building, keep getting better, hopefully use this as momentum, and hopefully it builds confidence for our offense, and we just keep working hard and get back to it and try to be 1-0 next week again.”
It probably shouldn’t have been this close, and with a healthy Matthew Stafford, who was amidst one of the best seasons of his career, this story could be much different. But the Bears got the job done. Danny Trevathan left the game with a gruesomely injured arm, which Matt Nagy described as “not real pretty,” giving Nick Kwiatkowski a chance to step up. Had he not done so, with 10 total tackles, a sack and an interception, this game may have played out differently.
“It’s not the way I wanted to get in, and (Trevathan) is a close friend of mine,” Kwiatkowski said. “I will talk with him and try to move forward. I don’t know the extent of the injury, and I’m sure he doesn’t either.”
Asked about the sustainability of the offensive spark moving forward, Nagy believes it is something the Bears can build off of.
“I think there’s different parts of it, and for us, we definitely want to get into that touchdown, touchdown, touchdown mode.”
The Bears defense looked better than it had in a while, allowing only one touchdown and a respectable 357 yards. When the offense couldn’t put the game away, the defense could, a recurring theme from last year that hasn’t been there this year. Trubisky was by no means spectacular, with his rough first half setting him back to the point of passing for 173 yards on the day. But like last season, it was enough, and the Bears were able to put the breaks on this runaway train, at least for now.
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