Emma: Bears-Lions Observations

The Bears are still in the playoff hunt after Mitchell Trubisky led a comeback win.

Chris Emma
November 29, 2019 - 4:03 pm
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DETROIT (670 The Score) -- Inside the cramped visiting locker room of Ford Field, the Bears celebrated their 24-20 victory over the Lions on Thursday like so many times before.

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Coach Matt Nagy thought Club Dub felt "authentic," reminding him of the Bears' rise a year ago. It wasn't a statement of contention for this team, which is now 6-6, but the Bears lived to fight another game.

Here are the takeaways from Chicago's win in Detroit.

Fourth quarter

Related: Tru's Day: Mitchel Trubisky Comes Through For Bears

One more loss will essentially mark the end for the Bears' bleak playoff hopes, but for now, they can look to their remaining four games as an opportunity.

The Bears kept themselves on those "in the hunt" graphics for the time being after beating the Giants (2-9) and Lions (3-8-1) in unconvincing fashion. They failed to inspire hope of being a better team but at least bought another opportunity to change the script of this season.

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky carved up the Lions' man coverage once again, going 29-of-38 for 338 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He led the Bears back from behind and threw the go-ahead touchdown pass with 2:17 remaining. Though it was just one game against a Lions defense that Trubisky has owned, it was a confidence booster for the Bears' inconsistent leader.

"That's what I think the kid deserves," coach Matt Nagy said.

The Bears' hopes to win out in the regular season -- which continues with a home game against the Cowboys (6-6) next Thursday -- begin with Trubisky building on this performance and sustaining it. 

It's unlikely the Bears elevate their play to a level in which they can win out, but they have ensured their next game will matter.

Take a bow, Blough

Some 48 hours before the Bears and Lions kicked off inside Ford Field, Chicago defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said his team was preparing for Jeff Driskel to be Detroit's quarterback.

It was clear early on the Bears weren't prepared to face David Blough, the Lions' third-string quarterback who instead got the start as Driskel managed a hamstring issue. The rookie Blough showed great poise in his first regular-season action as he dictated the Bears' defensive front and picked apart breakdowns in the secondary.

Blough's first NFL pass bounced short of his intended target, then one play later he found receiver Kenny Golladay wide open for a 75-yard touchdown pass after he blew past Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara, who appeared to be expecting help from a safety.

Blough finished 22-of-38 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception -- that coming on a desperation heave on his final play -- but the Bears adjusted well at halftime and held him in check. Blough was 15-of-23 for just 101 yards in the second half.

One to remember

Back in May when undrafted rookie tight end Jesper Horsted signed with the Bears, it seemed unlikely he would score a touchdown or even play a game.

Teams set their 90-man rosters looking to give each player an earnest chance to make an impression, though it often doesn't matter. Position battles are typically decided before training camp even begins. Horsted is an example of someone who made the most of his chance to make an impression.

Horsted hauled in his first career touchdown during the Bears' win, and he found himself appreciating the opportunity in getting to the end zone. He missed most of training camp in Bourbonnais due to an injury and played in just the final two preseason games, catching a touchdown in each.

The Bears added Horsted on to their practice squad and developed the former Princeton receiver into an NFL tight end. On Thursday, he was the top U tight end in Nagy's offense and got his chance.

"There were many days the last six months where I thought I might've caught my last pass, or certainly my last touchdown," Horsted said. "But you just kind of keep moving forward and try to improve yourself as best as you can."

Unsteady Eddy?

Last Sunday, the Bears set the kicking distance limit for kicker Eddy Pineiro under 48 yards, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor revealed. That decision was made kicking with a slight wind at Soldier Field.

Do the Bears have any faith left in Pineiro? Thursday again suggested the answer is no after they passed up a 50-yard field-goal attempt inside Ford Field to instead go for it on fourth-and-6. Still, Nagy downplayed the decision as it related to Pineiro. 

"I just felt that at that point in time, staying a little bit aggressive," Nagy said.

But that wasn't an isolated decision, given that the Bears elected to go for it on fourth-and-9 in a similar situation in a loss to the Rams on Nov. 17.

If the Bears believe they're best suited going for a fourth-and-6 instead of attempting a 50-yard field goal indoors, Pineiro probably shouldn't be their kicker.

Extra points

-- For all the struggles the Bears have had starting games, it helps when Cordarrelle Patterson can take a kickoff return to midfield, as he did Thursday. Trubisky then led the offense on a six-play, 50-yard touchdown drive, marking the second time this season that the Bears scored on their opening drive.

-- Credit cornerback Kyle Fuller with the play of the game. On a key third-and-1 for the Lions from the Bears' 5-yard line late in the game, he was left on an island between running back J.D. McKissic and the end zone. Fuller stuck McKissic short of the first-down marker and saved a touchdown that would've given Detroit full control of the game.

-- Top receiver Allen Robinson has been targeted 108 times this season, so it was important that the Bears have established receiver Anthony Miller as a second option for Trubisky. Miller set career-highs with eight receptions and 140 yards, including two key catches on the Bears' go-ahead drive late in the game.

-- Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith had another stellar performance with a career-high 15 tackles while adding two sacks. 

-- Head referee Jerome Boger and his crew had a rough day, which included a rare dueling pass interference called on Golladay and Bears cornerback Buster Skrine.

-- The Bears and Lions were playing what seemed to be a tribute to so many Bears-Lions games of the past, then Trubisky took charge and won the game for Chicago.

-- After a power outage delayed the halftime show, Brothers Osborne should've opened with "It Ain't My Fault" as the first song. Still, it was a tremendous performance, even if time constraints cut out "21 Summer."

-- The Cowboys are a ticking time bomb that's arriving at Soldier Field next Thursday night. Their impending explosion could help the Bears climb back to above .500.

-- The most important game for the Bears is the next one.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.