Jesper Horsted, Anthony Miller Rise and Shine
Anthony Miller's rise to relevance in the Bears offense hasn't exactly been a smooth one.
Nor has it been as unexpected as that of tight end Jesper Horsted.
Yet there they both were on the end of huge Mitchell Trubisky passes to lead the comeback from a 17-7 deficit to a 24-20 Bears victory Thursday over the Detroit Lions.
"Anthony Miller, you're feeling him the last two weeks," coach Matt Nagy said. "He's getting opportunities and he's making the most of it."
Possibly. Miller had 140 yards on nine catches Thursday, both career highs, and he caught the two passes that made possible the game-winning 90-yard drive to David Montgomery's go-ahead TD catch.
Both came, however, after he played what he called, his "worst half since I've been in the league." And that came after a slow start to this season, although now he seems to be peaking.
Miller's greatest transgression was a first-half dropped pass that nearly went for a fumble but was later ruled an incompletion on replay review.
"I dropped a ball, it was almost a fumble," Miller said. "I was in the right spots but it was just like I wasn't in my groove. You know what I mean? I just had to pick it up."
On Miller's key catches, he beat man coverage and Trubisky recognized it and put the ball on the mark.
"They were dimes," as Miller described it.
Allen Robinson was being double-teamed, the first on third-and-4 and second on third-and-5.
"He beat his guy and it's my job to get him the ball," Trubisky said.
Miller caught an 11-yarder for a first down on the final drive at the Bears 16, then a 35-yarder down the middle to get them out of the hole and to the Lions 49. Finally, he hauled in a pass falling out of bounds at the Detroit 2 to set up the winning points on Montgomery's catch.
"When teams play man you need your a players to make plays and that's really what happened today," Nagy said. "We had a quarterback that stepped up and made throws and gave our guys chances. And then when the chance was there to make a play, they made plays."
Horsted made his in the third quarter to get the Bears even at 17-17 and end an 80-yard drive. He simply beat man coverage straight up the middle to the end zone and Trubisky got it to him after a fake pitch.
Horsted, who was on the practice squad two weeks ago, made his second career catch count but bobbled it as he went down.
"I knew I caught the ball but I want to go back and watch it," Horsted said. "I know it was a contested catch but I knew there was no way that ball was dropped.
"Mitch made a good read and it was outside leverage, man, and I just beat the guy."
Horsted was playing wide receiver at Princeton this time last year before the Bears switched him to tight end.
"I mean, it was learning a new position—I've always liked to learn new things," Horsted said. "It meant getting in the playbook and getting bigger, and I just kind of embraced the challenge and took it day by day."
The comeback meant something to the offense, even if it seems too late to do anything about making a playoff run.
"It says a lot man," Miller said. "We've just got the mentality of never quitting. We had to fight through a lot of adversity today from penalties to dropped balls, stuff like that.
"We feel we can bounce back from anything."