Rozner: Bears celebrate their late return to the playoff race
With so much discussion of their futures heading into this monumental contest, it only magnified the importance, adding pressure to a game that, for the coach and quarterback, already carried huge playoff implications.
We speak, of course, about Jason Garrett and Dak Prescott.
What, you thought there was trouble in Chicago?
Nope, Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky are snug in the comfy embrace of GM Ryan Pace and the three are eternally joined at the hip, chained until they approach the White Cliffs of Dover or that Super Bowl they've been promising since before Trubisky was born.
Garrett, meanwhile, is as done as they come. The Cowboys head coach knows he's cooked regardless of how this season ends in Dallas.
There are no such worries in Lake Forest, as the Big Bear Band will certainly be back together next season, promising big things and grand progress in Year 6 of the Pace rebuild.
The problem with always promoting greatness is that people stop listening, and Nagy in particular has little credibility as it applies to just about anything, especially Trubisky.
So nothing he could say after Thursday's 31-24 victory over Dallas had any particular meaning.
Setting aside the usual Bears hyperbole, the truth is there were times in this one that Trubisky looked like a decent NFL quarterback, a rarity and quite an achievement three years into his NFL career.
And for a good portion of this game, the Bears (7-6) looked like a real football team, the best they've played since Chase Daniel's victory over the Vikings in September, their only win in 2019 over a team with a winning record.
And it kept their slim playoff hopes alive with games remaining against the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings.
The Bears were riding high coming into yet another national TV event after returning to the .500 mark with one-score victories over the Lions (twice) and Giants over the last four weeks, with a loss to the Rams amid the blazing streak.
They'd rather you not mention their wins this season have been over teams with a combined 29-54-2 record, only one with a winning mark. That was back in September when they manhandled Minnesota and Kirk Cousins at Soldier Field.
Dallas is now 6-7, a reminder for Bears fans that there are other NFL coaches who seem to have no idea what they're doing.
Nagy has at least figured out that Trubisky must run to be effective, something he did well Thursday with 63 yards on the ground, and the Bears will have to live with the risk because when he drops back to pass, anything can happen.
On the Bears' first drive of the night, Trubisky threw an interception at the goal line when the only players in the vicinity were three Cowboys.
And there were the usual number of times when he had no feel for the rush and no apparent clue what was happening on the field, but Nagy kept the offensive game simple after that and the Cowboys let go of the rope.
Nagy also wisely got Trubisky to the line early with no huddle as much as he could, which gives the coach an opportunity to read the defense for his quarterback.
This has to be the plan moving forward.
So the Bears celebrated and danced as if they had won the Super Bowl, which is wonderful for them during a season in which they were supposed to go to Miami for the big game.
And for Bears fans, any victory now represents an extension of the season, a reason to watch football in December, but the flip side is it allows Nagy to sell the Pace program as peaking at just the right time, its quarterback on a Hall of Fame trajectory.
It doesn't matter to them that if you subtract the two Detroit games, Trubisky came in with the lowest passer rating (76.3) in the NFL and 7 TDs against 6 interceptions.
And though he had a good night, a cynic might suggest Dallas just isn't very good. Their record would also suggest that's true.
But the bar for Trubisky is now resting in the park district mud, so any pass that finds a receiver is worthy of awards season, any drive that ends in points is cause for a celebration, any game won worthy of dancing, followed by a parade.
It never matters for this group. The focus for the Bears' hierarchy is always on a single event that proves all is well and the future is bright.
In any case, and at least for a night, those who paid to watch had themselves a fine time, which is more than they've been able to say in months.
That's a victory you can't put a price on regardless of the month -- or the record.