Rozner: It's a Bears holiday as they celebrate return to .500

  • Bears running back David Montgomery celebrates after a run during the second half. Once again the Bears had to hang on for dear life against the Lions, but for them this is cause for huge celebration.

    Bears running back David Montgomery celebrates after a run during the second half. Once again the Bears had to hang on for dear life against the Lions, but for them this is cause for huge celebration. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/28/2019 5:47 PM

It turned out slightly better than salmonella from undercooked stuffing.

So that's something.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Other than that, Bears football on Thanksgiving tasted pretty much like it has every other game this year.

For the second time in 18 days, they had to hang on for dear life against the 3-8-1 Lions, this time playing against an undrafted rookie quarterback in his first NFL start.

If that's cause for celebration, then the Bears (6-6) can live it up for the next week after a 24-20 victory in Detroit.

No doubt they will tout this monumental contest as yet another turning point for Mitch Trubisky and a franchise that was supposed to play for the Super Bowl in the fifth year of Ryan Pace's rebuild.

"Today was Mitch's day," said head coach Matt Nagy, who a few minutes later contradicted himself by saying the quarterback gets too much credit in victory and too much blame in defeat. "That's growth for Mitchell."

Facing the NFL's 29th-ranked defense, Trubisky was as he always is, confused and inconsistent for much of the game, but fortunate to be seeing man-to-man coverage most of the day.

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Trubisky struggles mightily against zone coverage because he can't read an NFL defense, and even Thursday he seemed on occasion to have no idea what the Lions were doing, often choosing a short throw with a clean pocket for little gain when he had receivers open down the field.

His footwork was still bad, his decision-making questionable and he managed an interception on the easiest of throws with an open receiver.

But he also he had some really good throws and a couple terrific drives, and that was enough to handle the woeful Lions.

Perhaps no one other than the Bears thinks this is cause for merriment, but you can understand their glee given how bad Trubisky has been against other terrible defensive teams.

Nagy, meanwhile, was Nagy as only Nagy can be, refusing to stay with the run when the Bears could have hammered it on Detroit all day.

Even after a few good David Montgomery runs, if one is stopped for no gain, Nagy panics and starts heaving it all over the field.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The national TV game had many of the Bears' hallmarks, Tarik Cohen running backward on punt returns, penalties in the red zone, plays getting to the huddle late and the always popular delay of game on first-and-goal.

Most impressive was Nagy turning down a 49-yard field-goal try in a dome in the middle of the second quarter down 14-7. They called timeout on fourth down and should have been called for delay of game out of the break when there was confusion lining up Cohen and Anthony Miller.

The refs missed it and Trubisky threw an awful pass incomplete to Javon Wims, but it wouldn't have counted anyway as Miller was flagged for illegal formation.

If this production was worthy of a party nearly two years into the Nagy offense and three years into Trubisky, after Trubisky's first 300-yard effort in 17 games -- also against the Lions last year -- then by all means the Bears should dance for days.

The favored play for Bears fans on social media was Trubisky at the end of the first half on a third-and-4 when he scrambled to within a yard of a first down and all he had to do was fall down to give the Bears first-and-goal, but instead he ran sideways and turned it into fourth down and a field goal.

That remains the essence of Trubisky, with seemingly no clue where he is or what's happening on the field.

The Bears also allowed Lions QB David Blough to look like an all-pro for a good portion of the game, even though he had never thrown an NFL pass before Thursday.

With the Bears up 7-0 early on a strong and shocking opening drive, Blough hit Kenny Golladay for a 75-yard touchdown when Golladay beat Prince Amukamara on a double move with no safety help.

It was the longest play of the year for Detroit on the third play for the Lions, on Blough's second NFL pass and with his first NFL completion.

It was the second-longest touchdown throw by a quarterback on his first career completion since 1970 (Neil O'Donnell, 89 yards in 1991), according to Elias Sports.

Blough made more good throws -- professional throws -- in the first half than Trubisky has made in weeks, and Thursday the Bears' defense could not use the excuse of fatigue.

On one particular third down, Blough kept his eyes downfield as he moved up in the pocket and started to run for a first down, but he spotted an open Golladay and hit him for 29 yards.

It's the kind of throw an NFL quarterback makes.

In the end, Trubisky made enough plays to win the game, which doesn't seem parade-worthy given his time in the league, but the Bears are the Bears and selling progress is what they do best.

There was some good, like Miller starting to figure it out, Roquan Smith looking more like himself and Kyle Fuller didn't quit on a sure touchdown with a shoestring tackle that forced a field goal, a play that probably saved the game for the Bears.

So off the huge victory, and with the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs and Vikings in front of them, the Bears are thinking playoffs again as they enter the final quarter of the season.

"We have our hands full. No doubt. Very good football teams all fighting for different reasons," Nagy said. "It's been a challenge at times, but now here we are. To have a game like this, to have a celebration like this, it brought back a lot of memories.

"It felt really good."

Only 66 days remaining to purchase your Super Bowl tickets.

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