It was such a familiar story.
Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense sputtered in the first half, producing only two field goals in the season-opening half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The third quarter wasn’t much to rave about either.
That’s where the script flipped. Something strange happened. Trubisky and the Bears offense, playing with a sense of urgency, woke up.
Trubisky led the Bears to three fourth-quarter touchdowns, capped by a beautiful 27-yard touchdown pass to receiver Anthony Miller. The throw was Trubisky’s best of the day, and the diving catch was arguably one of the best of MIller’s career thus far.
It was eerily similar to a pass Trubisky threw to Miller to set up the game-winning touchdown last season on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit.
“It was actually the same exact route, just dressed up a little differently with the formation and all that,” Trubisky said. “It was the same end zone, and same side of the field, so it was kind of weird that happened. I just trusted him. He kept on me all game: ‘Trust me, trust me, stick with me.’ And I did.”
The Bears rallied from a 17-point deficit to pull off a come-from-behind win, 27-23. It marked the Bears’ first double-digit fourth-quarter comeback since they did so against Kansas City on Oct. 11, 2015.
The Bears’ 21 fourth-quarter points were the most in the fourth quarter for the organization since 2014. It was also their first win in the season opener since 2013.
The Bears were expecting to see a lot of man-to-man coverage from the Lions defense. That wasn’t the case in the first half. But Trubisky said he knew when it came down to the end of the game, the Lions would go to their bread and butter: man-to-man.
They did, and the Bears exploited it.
Miller wanted to attack Lions third-string cornerback Tony McRae, who was in the game because first-round draft pick Jeff Okudah was out with an injury.
“Actually, me and coach Nagy, we actually talked about how [McRae was in the game],” Miller said. “I think it was that third-string guy. And then I was telling him about it all second half. So [we] decided to attack it and it ended up working out.”
Miller beat McRae by half a step, just enough space for Trubisky to put the throw on the money. Miller stared McRae down for a moment, too, after pulling in the game-winning touchdown catch with just under two minutes to go.
“What I love about our guys and our team, and me being around more the offensive guys during the game, is they’re coming over to me and they’re telling me: ‘I can beat this guy, I can beat that guy,’” Nagy said. “And when you have that input and you have that confidence from your players, you love that as a coach.”
Trubisky, who had started off his day completing only eight of his first 20 pass attempts, finished the game 20-of-36 passing, for 242 yards and three touchdowns. He found tight end Jimmy Graham for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, the Bears’ first touchdown of the season.
Later, a 55-yard field goal miss from Lions kicker Matt Prater set up the Bears with great field possession. The Bears offense went 55 yards in 1:04 of game time. Trubisky connected with Javon Wims for a touchdown to pull within three, 23-20.
“First half didn't go how I wanted, how our offense wanted,” Trubisky said. “We knew we’ve got to be better on third down, earlier in the game, especially in the red zone. I think where it helped me, first half to second half, was when you start to get a rhythm, you start to not think. Just getting out of your own head, not thinking about anything else except the next play.”
Trubisky put the ball where only Wims could catch it on his second touchdown pass, which came with 2:58 remaining in the game. A Kyle Fuller interception set up the Bears’ game-winning drive moments later.
In the fourth quarter, Trubisky was 8-for-10 passing for 89 yards and three touchdowns, with a QB rating of 143.3.
Nagy called Sunday’s win the type of win “you remember.” Nobody makes the playoffs in Week 1, but Trubisky certainly showed he still has more to prove.
“[This win] shows we can handle adversity as a team,” Nagy said. “It shows we stick together … but it also shows there are some things we need to get better at. We’re not going to let this win deodorize any of the stuff on offense, defense or special teams that wasn’t good.”