Bears come up short, Lions win 27-24
Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky nearly led a miraculous comeback in the final seconds but, in the end, the Bears' 27-24 loss to the Lions was typical.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford did what he usually does: He leads his team to a late victory. It was the 31st time in his nine seasons that Stafford led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter that began with the Lions tied or trailing.
The 3-7 Bears did what bad teams usually do: They found a way to lose. Again, the Bears made it close. Each of their last four losses have been by 8 points or less.
On Sunday at chilly Soldier Field, Stafford guided his team into position for a 52-yard Matt Prater field goal with 1:31 left, completing 3 straight passes for 50 yards. Stafford finished with a 120.2 passer rating, completing 21 of 31 passes for 299 yards, 2 touchdowns and was not intercepted. He brought the 6-4 Lions back from early deficits of 10-0 and 17-7.
Since the 1970 merger, only Stafford and the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan, who has 32, have led 30 or more game-winning drives in their first nine seasons, according to the Elias Sport Bureau.
Maybe some day Trubisky can do what Stafford has done so many time. It should have happened Sunday in his sixth NFL start. Trubisky guided the Bears into position for a 46-yard field-goal attempt with eight seconds left, but Connor Barth's kick was wide right -- way wide. The Bears were 27th in FG percentage even before the inconsistent Barth missed his fifth kick of the season on 16 attempts.
"I think I hit the ground a little bit," Barth said. "Just pushed it. I think everyone here is disappointed.
It's a team game. Everyone makes mistakes. Of course I want that one back, but it happened and I'll move on, and I'll take it, it's on me."
Trubisky, who posted an 88.1 passer rating, certainly did his part down the stretch. On a fourth-and-13 play with 28 seconds left and the game still hanging in the balance, he bolted the pocket and sprinted for a 19-yard gain. On the next play he connected with Dontrelle Inman for 15 yards leading to the missed field goal.
Trubisky completed 18 of 30 passes for 179 yards and 1 touchdown and was not intercepted for the fourth time in his last five starts.
"I think he's made progress every week, and I thought he got better (Sunday)," Bears coach John Fox said. "He's done a great job and will continue to get better. I've been very impressed with him."
Trubisky's teammates were impressed with him as well, especially the late scramble and his poise under pressure on the final drive.
"Just showing everybody exactly what he can do," wide receiver Kendall Wright said. "Mitch is a baller, and that (scramble) is one of those baller plays that y'all been hearing everybody talk about. He did everything that he could to put our team in position to possibly win the game or go to overtime."
Trubisky benefited from a ground game that produced 222 yards, including the 53 he contributed on 6 attempts (8.8-yard average). Jordan Howard added 125 yards on just 15 carries (8.3-yard) average, and rookie Tarik Cohen picked up 54 yards on 9 attempts, including a spectacular 15-yard TD on which he flew over the final tackler into the end zone.
As he did a week earlier in his first game with his new team, Inman again led the Bears in receiving yards with 43 on 3 receptions. In his short time as a Bear, Inman sees promise from his young quarterback, especially at crunchtime.
"Mitch told us, and I told the guys, 'Hey, let's go win it. Have fun, play football,' " Inman said. "He showed that we can trust in him in the future, and he showed that he has poise."
Although the Bears have been in every game that he's started, Trubisky is now 2-4, but he's learning some hard lessons.
"Adversity is a great teacher," he said. "Overcoming the struggle is a great teacher. There's no rookie excuse. You don't get a freebie because you're a rookie. I'm just looking at these opportunities as chances to overcome."
There are likely to be many more obstacles to overcome on a Bears team that keeps finding ways to lose.
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