The Los Angeles Chargers ended their three-game skid Sunday with a 17-16 victory over the Chicago Bears. Here are some instant reactions and observations from the game.
Trubisky threw/fumbled the Chargers back into the game
The Bears had multiple chances to put the game out of reach. The offense reached the 1-yard line and couldn't punch it in before the end of the first half, and head coach Matt Nagy's went conservative and played for the field goal on third down. A touchdown on the opening drive of the second half put Chicago ahead 16-7, a near death sentence for a Chargers offense that has struggled mightily all month. After holding that unit to a field goal, the Bears took over again with a chance to put the game effectively out of reach with a touchdown.
Then the worst version of Mitch Trubisky made his entrance.
The former first-round pick tossed an easy interception to cornerback Casey Hayward, who returned it 37 yards to set up the Chargers in the red zone. On the Bears' next possession, Trubisky fumbled the ball without a defender in his immediate vicinity, resulting in a recovery by Los Angeles defensive tackle Damion Square.
Though the Chargers didn't score on each of the turnovers, they did move ahead 17-16 and take valuable time off the clock for the Bears. With Trubisky and Chicago's offense struggling to move the ball nearly as badly as Los Angeles, the game came down to which quarterback could make plays in key moments and sidestep mistakes.
On the Bears' final drive, Trubisky finally did his part. He made a key throw Taylor Gabriel and ran the ball a few plays later to set up an easy field goal. Eddy Pineiro simply missed the kick.
Still, had Trubisky played better earlier, it wouldn't have come down to one kick.
Chargers still cannot reliably move the chains
Big plays and the gaps between them defined the Chargers offense Sunday. Mike Williams' 43-yard reception and Melvin Gordon's 19-yard run through three Bears defenders for a score gave the Chargers their first lead. Hunter Henry hauled in a 20-yard strike off play-action that dug the team out of a first-and-20 situation and helped set up a score later the same drive. Williams nearly hauled in another deep ball, a 23-yard pass from Philip Rivers into the end zone that would have cut the team's deficit to three points.
But absent those big plays, the Chargers simply couldn't move the chains reliably. They fell short on all five of their third-down plays in the first half, improving only slightly to two for 10 before the game's final whistle. Los Angeles couldn't even capitalize on a Trubisky interception that set up the offense in the red zone, with Keenan Allen dropping a go-ahead touchdown and kicker Chase McLaughlin missing a field goal moments later.
During the week, head coach Anthony Lynn and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt discussed the team's offensive issues. When asked whether they might dial up more play-action -- a play type with which the Chargers have proven highly effective this season -- both said that wouldn't happen until Los Angeles established the run. Even with Melvin Gordon rushing for nearly 4 yards per carry, the offense used little play-action and the results showed it.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH