The stage was set. Mitch Trubisky, in his debut, started a drive with 2:32 left in a tie game. The Chicago Bears’ new quarterback was set to lead a storybook game-winning drive. Bears fans would relive it forever.
Yeah, about that.
On the first play of that late drive, Trubisky rolled to his right and threw to tight end Zach Miller. Vikings safety Harrison Smith undercut Miller on a great play and picked him off. This isn’t the ACC; NFL defensive backs are good enough to make that play.
The Vikings took possession already in field-goal position. A truly awful third-down holding call on Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd allowed the Vikings to run down the clock and Kai Forbath kicked the game-winning field goal with 12 seconds left. Minnesota won 20-17.
The Smith interception was the most crushing blow in a tough first start for Trubisky. Saddled with a pretty conservative offensive game plan, Trubisky rarely tested the Minnesota Vikings downfield. After a solid start, he got in a funk through the middle of the game and couldn’t complete a pass for a long stretch. He finished 12 of 25 for 128 yards.
Trubisky did make a couple plays. His first touchdown pass was a bit lucky, but it still counts. A pass to the end zone was tipped by Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo and landed in the hands of Miller. Then the Bears got the two-point conversion on a fun play, when a handoff went to the left, was reversed to the right and there was an option pitch to Trubisky, who ran in for the score. That tied the game in the fourth quarter.
The biggest play – the Bears’ first pass play of more than 30 yards this season – came on a fake punt in the third quarter that went for a touchdown. With Trubisky struggling to move the offense, Chicago had to get creative.
Trubisky showed some skills. He is athletic and good on the move. He has a good arm, which he showed off too infrequently. But there were moments when it was clear why Trubisky was the second overall pick of the draft. It was obvious why the Bears turned the page and started the Trubisky era when they did.
Trubisky also had moments where he reminded everyone he’s an inexperienced rookie making his first start. He won’t make that mistake to Smith in a few years. He’s still learning now though, and that play cost the Bears a winnable game to a division rival.
Trubisky will learn. He should improve. He just wasn’t an immediate hit in his first start.
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