Hub Arkush: Better effort, but Bears far from perfect in win over Lions
DETROIT -- The Bears continue to be one of the most glass half-full, glass half-empty teams we've ever seen.
With their 24-20 Thanksgiving Day, come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Lions, the 6-6 Bears climbed back to .500 for the first time in six weeks.
This time they threw in some style points.
Mitch Trubisky made two costly mistakes, but other than that he played arguably his best game as a Bear.
It wasn't just the impressive numbers Trubisky cobbled together -- going 29-38, throwing for 338 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception for a 118.1 passing rating. He was in command of the offense all day long.
Let's be clear, nobody is saying Trubisky arrived Thursday in Detroit. But what I am saying is for the fourth week in a row, he took a step forward and this time it was a big one.
There is still much work to do.
With 38 seconds to play in the first half, trailing 17-7, the Bears had third and 4 at the Lions 13-yard line. Trubisky scrambled out to his left running toward the sideline, ran through two different opportunities to go north and south and almost certainly convert the first down, and was stopped for a 1-yard gain.
The Bears were forced to settle for a 30-yard Eddy Pineiro field goal and a 17-10 halftime deficit.
On their first possession of the second half, Trubisky marched the Bears 30 yards in 5 plays to the Detroit 33 where he tried to hit wide receiver Allen Robinson on an 11-yard crossing route. But he threw it slightly behind his receiver, allowing cornerback Darius Slay to claim the Lions one pick of the day.
Trubisky never blinked. After another three-and-out courtesy of the Bears defense, he marched his team 80 yards in 9 plays culminating in a perfect over-the shoulder throw to rookie tight end Jesper Horsted for a TD and 17-17 tie.
Wide receiver Anthony Miller also dialed up one major faux pas, but it didn't stop him from compiling easily his best day as a pro -- 9 catches for 130 yards.
None of his catches was more important than the 35-yard over-the-shoulder grab he made behind Justin Coleman on a perfect toss from Trubisky on third and 4 from the Bears own 16, which set up the winning score.
Most of Miller's production came in the second half after a second quarter screw-up that might have gotten him benched if Taylor Gabriel wasn't inactive.
With 8:13 to play in the second quarter and fourth and 6 at the Lions 32, Matt Nagy elected to pass on a 49-yard field goal attempt for Pineiro, called a timeout to make sure everything was perfect.
Miller came out and lined up in an illegal formation and the Bears turned the ball over on downs.
Another promising sign: Linebacker Roquan Smith appeared to be everywhere Thursday, piling up 15 tackles, 2 quarterback sacks and 2 tackles for loss.
But in spite of all his game-changing plays, with 58 seconds to play and the Lions driving for what would be a winning touchdown, Smith chased down Lions running back Ty Johnson after a 7-yard gain and threw him down late out of bounds for a 15-yard penalty, setting Detroit up at the Bears 27.
There was a chance at redemption as 2 plays later, Smith ran down Lions QB David Blough for his second sack and a 13-yard loss, effectively thwarting the Lions last gasp effort.
Unfortunately, a number of other Bears had mental lapses, some stalling Bears' drives and others extending the Lions.
While almost everyone played better Thursday, the Bears committed several cardinal sins, including a delay-of-game penalty at the Lions 2-yard line with 2:33 to play.
Though they overcame that one with the game-winning Trubisky to David Montgomery toss on the next play, they were not able to overcome a number of the other 9 penalties they drew for 84 yards.
Make no mistake, this was a much more impressive win than the last one over the Lions or last Sunday's Keystone Kops dance with the Giants, but by no means did it suggest this is a Bears team now ready to make a run.
There was a lot to like Thursday in Detroit, but there were also still far too many moments when they appeared to be a rudderless ship.
• @Hub_Arkush is the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly.