The Bears fell to 1-4 with a narrow 20-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings Monday night at Soldier Field. Here are three things that stood out in Week 5 defeat:
(1) Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was who we thought he would be, at least in his first NFL start.
Trubisky provided the spark the Bears were anticipating with his athleticism, mobility and ability to extend plays and throw accurately on the run. But he also made a costly rookie mistake late in the game with an interception deep in his own territory that led to the Vikings’ game-winning field goal.
The second overall pick in the draft completed 12 of 25 passes for 128 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 60.1 passer rating. He also rushed for 22 yards on three carries. Trubisky’s stats weren’t great, but he showed flashes of the play-making ability that enticed the Bears to select him with their highest draft pick since 1951.
Trubisky looked comfortable from the outset of the game, completing 3 of 4 passes for 31 yards on the Bears’ opening possession. His only incompletion on the series was a drop by tight end Dion Sims, and a 26-yard pass play to receiver Tre McBride was nullified by a holding penalty on center Cody Whitehair.
Trubisky showed his leadership and maturity after the game when he took ownership of the late interception, telling reporters: “I was just trying to do too much outside of what I need to do. I just need to know the situation and throw the ball away and go play. I just forced one. Can’t do that, can’t put my team in that situation. I feel like it’s on me.”
(2) Trubisky’s teammates on offense failed to provide the rookie quarterback with the support he needed.
The Bears offense committed six penalties in the game’s first 20 minutes, repeatedly stalling drives. The unit’s seven first-half possessions resulted in six punts and a turnover. On the six drives that ended with punts, the offense faced third down plays needing 20, 12, 12, 15, 13 and 20 yards for a first down.
Putting Trubisky in predictable passing situations was not exactly a recipe for success. The Bears needed to stay ahead of the chains and utilize an effective play-action game. The costliest penalty was a holding infraction on receiver Markus Wheaton that nullified Jordan Howard‘s 42-yard touchdown run.
“In the first half, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” said coach John Fox. “We had good field position, our defense was playing really well and we took ourselves out of field position, taking points off the board with penalties.”
Bears receivers also continued to drop passes and fail to gain much separation on their pass routes, something that also plagued the offense in the first four games of the season when Mike Glennon was the quarterback.
“I’ll tell you about the drops,” said receiver Kendall Wright, who led the Bears with four catches for 46 yards. “You catch the ball with your eyes before it gets to you. You catch it with your eyes; sometimes guys try to take off running before they catch the ball. Bottom line is you can’t drop the ball.”
(3) The Bears employed a pair of rare trick plays that resulted in a touchdown and game-tying two-point conversion.
Trailing 10-2 midway through the third quarter, the Bears faced fourth-and-six from the Minnesota 38. Checking to a fake based on how the Vikings lined up, punter Pat O’Donnell tossed a pass over the middle to Benny Cunningham, who eluded two tacklers en route to a 38-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to 10-9. O’Donnell airmailed the pass over Cunningham a couple times during the week in practice, but the punter threw a perfect ball Monday night. The play is now the longest completion of the season by the Bears.
Not to be outdone by special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains called for some razzle dazzle on a two-point conversion play after Trubisky’s 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Miller had drawn the Bears to within 17-15 early in the fourth quarter.
Lining up in the shotgun, Trubisky took the snap and handed the ball to running back Jordan Howard. Howard gave it to Miller, who pitched it to Trubisky, who jogged into the end zone. Miller, an option quarterback at Nebraska-Omaha before switching to tight end in the NFL, said the play “takes me back to my college days. Great call and design; really just great execution for all of us across the board.”