Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky picked the right time to heat up.
Playing the first of three straight games against NFC North opponents, Trubisky had arguably the second-best performance of his young career in Chicago’s 34-22 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
It will be difficult for Trubisky to ever top the six-touchdown game he had in Week 4, but the second-year quarterback was nearly perfect at halftime, completing 14-of-16 pass attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns (158.3 passer rating).
Trubisky finished the game with a career-high 355 passing yards, three touchdowns, a rushing TD and zero interceptions for his first career win over an NFC North team.
“It would probably be one of my best games,” Trubisky said. “Just felt really comfortable out there, thought the O-line played fantastic today and we got open on the outsides and it was just me doing my job, sitting back there and getting the ball to the playmakers. So I just felt really comfortable today. I put the ball where it needed to go and it’s all a credit to my teammates and the work we put in in practice.”
The final score doesn’t tell the whole story. The Lions made it respectable partly because Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed four kicks — two field goals and two extra-point attempts — doinking all four off the uprights.
Trubisky has endured periodic lapses in accuracy during the season, but he was dialed-in from the opening drive. Even when forced to throw off schedule, Trubisky’s passes found the mark, including balls to wide receivers Allen Robinson (six catches for 133 yards and two TDs in his first game back from injury) and rookie Anthony Miller (five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown).
Trubisky is set up for success. In addition to Robinson, Trubisky has formed on-field bonds with Trey Burton, Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel and Miller.
And head coach Matt Nagy’s playcalling kept Detroit’s defense totally off-balance. The Bears, operating entirely out of a no-huddle offense, took only 3:38 to drive 75 yards and score on the game’s opening possession.
Now it’s up to Trubisky to routinely perform at this level.
An NFC North title depends on it.
At 6-3, Chicago is in prime position to distance itself from the rest of the division. The Bears host the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday night, and then have a quick turnaround and play the Lions again on Thanksgiving in Detroit.
The division likely will come down to the Bears and Vikings, but Chicago has the luxury of still facing the Giants and Niners. Minnesota isn’t so fortunate. The Vikings have upcoming trips to New England and Seattle in consecutive weeks.
But ultimately, the Bears’ fortunes rest with their young quarterback.
“Individually, I thought Mitch probably had his best game of the season, without a doubt,” Nagy said. “He was on fire, he was efficient, threw the ball with conviction, his eyes were great, really super proud of him for coming out here and playing that way. He played confident and I like that. But it’s not one person, just like when someone doesn’t play well. The line gave him time, the wide receivers ran awesome routes, the backs protected and collectively we got off to a good start in that first half. And then it was a little different in the second half, but that’s a part of, that’s just how the flow goes.”
The Bears’ defense — minus the two games versus Miami and New England — brings it every week. Khalil Mack sacked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford two times in his first game following a two-week layoff. As a team, the Bears had six sacks and three takeaways.
Behind that superior defense, the Bears will be a tough team for anyone to beat when Trubisky is on.