Mitch Trubisky was nothing short of spectacular in his NFL debut Thursday night, electrifying the Soldier Field crowd with a stellar performance that exceeded all realistic expectations.
The second overall pick in the draft led the Bears to touchdowns on each of his first two possessions after following Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez into the game, turning a 10-0 deficit into a 14-10 lead in an eventual 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.
“I thought he had a pretty good command of the game, but it wasn’t all perfect,” said coach John Fox. “Obviously you can see why he was picked in the draft where he was. I think that was evident. But we still have a long way to go as a football team.”
Trubisky completed his first 10 passes and finished his first pro game connecting on 18 of 25 throws for 166 yards with one touchdown and an impressive 103.1 passer rating.
“I thought it was fun,” Trubisky said. “It was kind of what I wanted to do; go out there, just be consistent, move the ball with the offense, show command in the huddle, the line of scrimmage. O-line did a great job taking care of me. Running backs and receivers did a good job catching it and running it. I thought it was good. Obviously wanted to come out with a win, but we did a lot of good things.”
The Bears were down 10-0 and showing few if any signs of life on offense when Trubisky entered the contest with 1:55 left in the first half. He promptly engineered a 6-play, 50-yard drive by completing 4-of-4 passes for 24 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown to Victor Cruz.
Trubisky sprinted to his left and fired the ball to a wide open Cruz, who celebrated by doing his signature Salsa dance as the Bears closed the gap to 10-7 with :13 left in the half.
After the Broncos went three-and-out to open the third quarter, Trubisky orchestrated a 12-play, 75-yard drive capped by Benny Cunningham‘s 1-yard TD run that gave the Bears a 14-10 lead with 5:35 left in the third quarter. Trubisky was a perfect 5-of-5 for 50 yards on the drive.
Trubisky again produced points on his third possession as Connor Barth‘s 25-yard field goal extended the Bears’ lead to 17-10 with 9:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But the Broncos rallied for a 24-17 victory, scoring touchdowns on Kyle Sloter’s 47-yard pass to a wide open Isaiah McKenzie with 6:01 to play and DeAngelo Henderson’s 41-yard run on a third-and-22 draw play with 1:49 left. The two big plays came after the Bears defense had allowed only a field goal on Denver’s first eight possessions.
Trubisky helped the offense generate 19 first downs on five possessions after Glennon and Sanchez had combined to produce just four first downs on six drives.
Glennon and the No. 1 unit struggled from the outset, committing two turnovers sandwiched by a three-and-out on the Bears’ first three possessions.
On the game’s third play from scrimmage, Glennon’s overthrown pass intended for Zach Miller was intercepted by cornerback Chris Harris, who returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to give the Broncos an early 7-0 lead.
After the Bears went three-and-out, Denver widened the margin to 10-0 on Brandon McManus’ 38-yard field goal midway through the first quarter.
Leonard Floyd sacked Trevor Siemian on Denver’s first play from scrimmage and pressured Siemian into a third-down incompletion, forcing the Broncos to settle for a field goal. But the Bears defense committed penalties on four straight plays, including 15-yarders on Willie Young and Sam Acho.
The Bears’ third possession ended when center Cody Whitehair‘s errant shotgun snap was recovered by Broncos safety Jamal Carter at the Chicago 47. But the Chicago defense forced a Denver punt without allowing a first down, preventing further damage.
Glennon was replaced by Sanchez after completing 2 of 8 passes for 20 yards with one interception and a 0.0 passer rating. Sanchez played one possession, connecting on 1 of 4 passes for four yards.
“I’m definitely ready to get out to Arizona and play there,” Glennon said in reference to the Bears’ next preseason game. “Obviously not the start we wanted at all. I didn’t necessarily play well, but it’s early in the preseason. We’re still a month out, a lot to improve on. I’m looking forward to getting back to work on Saturday.”