Bears Find the Missing Spark to End Skid
The Bears caught a break Sunday, and hope they found a spark they need to create the snowball effect necessary to save a season.
Before the game even started Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was a scratch with a bad back/hip, but it didn't seem to help as the Bears fell behind 6-0 against backup quarterback Jeff Driskel.
However, in the second quarter a gamble by coach Matt Nagy and about six minutes worth of high-level passing by Mitchell Trubisky turned it all around and they beat the Lions 20-13 to snap a four-game losing streak.
"I think when you go through a stretch like we did, it's tough," Trubisky said. "And I think days like today you appreciate just a little bit more, just getting back to it and getting back to that good feeling of winning.
"We've got to build off it and definitely not take it for granted."
Matt Prater's field goals of 54 and 22 yards left the Bears trailing and then Nagy decided to go for a fourth-and-1 at the Bears 29. They picked up the first down on David Montgomery's 2-yard run, then went 80 yards to finish on Trubisky's 18-yard perfect pass to lunging Ben Braunecker in the end zone for a 7-6 lead.
"We needed a spark," Nagy said of his fourth-down gamble. "I think it sends a message to our players that listen, here you go, we're backed up, it's time for us to gain control of this and they stepped up and did it."
The TD was the first for Braunecker and he was only getting as many snaps on offense as he did because of a pregame decision to make Adam Shaheen inactive.
“I had been imagining and dreaming of what the first touchdown would be like for quite some time now," Braunecker said. "I've had to wait 3½ years to do it, but I'm glad it finally happened. It was amazing."
From there, the onslaught was fast and furious from the Bears passing attack for a brief time and Trubisky finished 16 of 23 for 173 yards with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 131.0.
It resembled the way they quickly pulled away from Washington, then had to fight off a late surge.
"I think the early touchdown by Ben Braunecker really ignited us," running back Tarik Cohen said. "When one person on the team sees someone else do something good, it’s contagious.”
The Bears gained only 226 yards total on the day, but Trubisky found Cohen with a swing pass for a 9-yard TD following a 33-yard throw to Allen Robinson on the first drive of the third quarter. Then Trubisky threw 24 yards to Taylor Gabriel crossing the field in the end zone following Nick Kwiatkowski's first career interception.
The 20-6 lead held up despite a late Lions TD pass of 47 yards from Driskel to Kenny Golladay.
"It's just one win, you know what I mean?" Gabriel said. "But at the same time we've got to just keep stacking up days and go back to the drawing board Monday and light it up."
This win could certainly have been downplayed considering it came with Driskel playing quarterback. He'd only been with the Lions since Sept. 17 and finished 27 of 46 for 269 yards. He had the Lions at the Bears 28 and trying for the tie but an incompletion in the end zone ended the game.
The Bears also had their win tempered by losing defensive leader Danny Trevathan to what looked like a bad arm injury, although they didn't reveal the extent.
Still, after four straight losses, to go into Los Angeles against the Rams next week at 4-5 is a major step forward for the Bears. They even had Club Dub going afterward in the locker room.
"I think playing well, playing a little bit better and kind of fixing those mistakes that we've been making, just finding ways to get in the end zone on offense and then coming up with a W is always big," Trubisky said. "It feels good. We've just got to build off of it and keep getting better."