Mitchell Trubisky hasn't exactly been known for coming through in the clutch during his time in Chicago, but with the Bears' playoff hopes on the line in Minnesota on Sunday, the fourth-year quarterback delivered.
Trubisky didn't finish with pretty numbers, but he did throw for a highly-efficient 201 yards during Chicago's 33-27 win over Minnesota. The Bears actually got off to a slow start with a three-and-out on their first offensive possession, but after that, they wouldn't punt again for the rest of the game thanks to a dynamic performance from both Trubisky and David Montgomery, who rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
For the Bears, the most encouraging performance came from Trubisky, who's now 4-2 on the season as the team's starting quarterback. The fun for Trubisky started on Chicago's second possession when he showed off his accuracy by going 3 for 3 for 36 yards. The Bears quarterback capped the drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass that doesn't sound impressive on paper, but just watch how it happens. With a defender in his face, Trubisky was still somehow able to dump the ball off to Darnell Mooney, who took the ball in for a score.
At different points in his career, Trubisky might have taken a sack of thrown a pick or thrown an incomplete pass there, but this time he got the touchdown. After taking the early 7-0 lead on that play, the Bears would never trail.
Trubisky didn't just do damage with his right arm, but he also hurt the Vikings with his legs. On one touchdown drive in the second quarter, Trubisky converted twice on third down with a pair of runs. On another TD drive in the third quarter, Trubisky converted both a third-and-4 (with a 16-yard pass to Montgomery) and a third-and-11 (with a 13-yard pass to Allen Robinson).
It was a wild Week 15 Sunday and there's a lot to go over. Pick Six Podcast host Will Brinson and the Superfriends are here to break it all down; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
Although Trubisky did make one monstrous mistake in this game when he threw a fourth-quarter interception in the end zone, the Bears defense ended up bailing him out when they stopped the Vikings on a fourth-down attempt just a few plays later. It was one of multiple big plays the Bears defense made on the day.
As Trubisky continues to have a late0season resurgence, the Bears are going to have to start asking themselves some big questions about his future. For instance, if Trubisky leads this team to the playoffs, does Chicago try to sign him to an extension? The quarterback is scheduled to be a free agent in March and based on how he's playing, it seems he's determined to make the team's decision as difficult as possible.
Buffalo 48-19 over Denver (Saturday)
|Although Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers are the leading MVP candidates, Josh Allen did his best to force himself into the conversation on Saturday by playing one of his best games of the season. Not only did the Bills QB throw for 359 yards and two touchdowns, but he also rushed for 33 yards and two more touchdowns. Allen was nearly perfect throwing to Stefon Diggs, who caught 11 of 13 targets for 147 yards, including a 55-yarder. Allen was so good that he overshadowed the play of a Bills defense that absolutely dominated the Broncos. The win clinched the Bills' first division title since 1995.|
|The Broncos only trailed 21-13 at the half, but then they came out and fell flat on their faces to start the second half. Over the first five minutes of the third quarter, the Broncos were outscored 14-0 and part of the reason that happened is because Drew Lock lost a fumble that was returned for a TD by Buffalo on Denver's opening possession of the half. The Broncos followed that up by going three-and-out on their next two possessions and by the time they had the ball again, they were trailing 35-13. Also, the Broncos defense couldn't stop Josh Allen, and Denver even got an ugly performance from its special teams as new kicker Taylor Russolino missed two extra points and a field goal.|
Green Bay 24-16 over Carolina (Saturday)
|If the Panthers hadn't dug such a deep hole for themselves to start the game, they might have been able to pull off the upset in Green Bay. Although the defense struggled early as the Packers jumped out to a 21-3 lead, they shut down Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered Packers offense after that. Derrick Brown tallied two of Carolina's four sacks on Rodgers, who was held to a season-low 143 yards. Offensively, the Panthers really only made one big mistake, but it was a costly one: Teddy Bridgewater lost a fumble at the 1-yard line that the Packers not only recovered, but then returned 50 yards to get into Carolina territory. The Panthers just couldn't make a big play when they need it as they went 3 of 10 on third-down conversions while only scoring one touchdown on four trips to the red zone. |
|If the Packers learned one thing on Saturday, it's that they can win even if Aaron Rodgers doesn't have a big game. On a night where Rodgers threw for a season-low 143 yards, the Packers were able to win because the other Aaron (Aaron Jones) was able to carry the offense. Not only did Jones rush for 45 yards and a touchdown, but he also set up another Packers touchdown on Green Bay's opening possession with a huge 47-yard run on fourth-and-1. As for Rodgers, although he didn't put up any eye-popping numbers, he did throw for a TD and rush for a TD. Defensively, it wasn't a pretty win for the Packers, but they did come up with some big plays, including a forced fumble in the first half that came after Carolina drove all the way down to Green Bay's 1-yard line.|
Tampa Bay 31-27 over Atlanta
|After a disastrous first half that ended with Tampa Bay trailing 17-0, the Buccaneers came alive for the final two quarters of the game. Tom Brady appeared to sleep his way through the first half as he threw for just 70 yards, but he rebounded in a strong way with 320 yards and two touchdowns in a second half where Tampa Bay outscored the Falcons 31-10. Mike Evans (110 yards) and Antonio Brown (93 yards and a TD) both came up with big plays down the stretch. Defensively, the Buccaneers sacked Matt Ryan three times and all three of those came during a huge fourth quarter where the Bucs limited the Falcons to just 35 yards.|
|Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Falcons blew a giant lead to a team quarterbacked by Tom Brady. In a game where most Falcons fans probably experienced déjà vu, Atlanta jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the third quarter and then squandered it away. After taking the lead, the Falcons offense melted down and went three-and-out on three of its next four possessions. The defense also fell apart, allowing four touchdown drives of 75 or more yards in the second half after allowing zero points in the first half. This game marked the third time this year that the Falcons have blown a lead of 16 points or more. |
Tennessee 46-25 over Detroit
|The Lions defense has been one of the worst in the NFL all season, and their position in the rankings isn't going to improve after this loss. The Lions had no answers for a Titans offense that rolled up 463 yards. The Lions were exceptionally bad on third down (allowing the Titans to convert 9 of 11 times) and they were even worse in the red zone, where they allowed Tennessee to score five touchdowns on five trips.|
|If Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry both bring their 'A' game in any given week, the Titans are pretty much unbeatable, and both guys brought their 'A' game against Detroit. Tannehill totaled five touchdowns, three through the air and two on the ground. The Titans quarterback threw for 273 yards, with 75 of those coming on a TD pass to Corey Davis in the first quarter (Davis caught four passes for 110 yards). As for Henry, the human battering ram averaged 6.1 yard per carry in a game where he finished with 147 yards. Although the Titans defense struggled some, the unit did make several big plays. Not only did they force three turnovers, but they also made a big stop on a fourth-and-4 in the fourth quarter.|
Indianapolis 27-20 over Houston
|The Texans made too many mistakes in this game, and there was no mistake bigger than the one made by Keke Coutee, who lost a fumble at the Colts' 1-yard line with just 19 seconds left to play. The Texans also lost a fumble in the first quarter, which set up an easy early touchdown for Indianapolis. Although Deshaun Watson played well (373 passing yards, two touchdowns), the Texans couldn't score in the red zone, where they went just 1 for 4. Also, the Texans offensive line was overmatched by a Colts defense that sacked Watson five times.|
|For the second time in three weeks, the Colts defense propelled Indy to a win over Houston by recovering a fumble at the goal line with less than 30 seconds left. In Week 13, the Colts recovered a Deshaun Watson fumble to seal the win. In this game, Darius Leonard saved the day by forcing a fumble at the 1-yard line, which the Colts ended up recovering in the end zone. Offensively, the Colts were able to move the ball at will, especially in the second half, when they scored on each one of their drives. Rookie Jonathan Taylor continued his late-season resurgence by rushing for 83 yards, marking the fourth straight week he's gone over 80 yards.|
Baltimore 40-14 over Jacksonville
|The Jaguars gave up a safety on their second play from scrimmage, and things only got worse from there. The Jags didn't have a single drive of more than 30 yards during a first half where they never really came close to scoring. By the time they did get their first score, which came in the second half, they were already trailing 26-7. This game marked Gardner Minshew's first start since October, and although he wasn't horrible (22 of 29 for 226 yards and two touchdowns), he didn't give Jacksonville any sort of spark and he did most of his damage in garbage time.|
|The Jaguars played this game without a punter, which was almost ironic because the Ravens definitely didn't need theirs. The Ravens didn't a punt a single time in a game where Lamar Jackson had Baltimore's offense rolling. The Ravens quarterback had one of his best days of the year throwing the ball as he finished with 243 yards and three touchdown passes. Jackson put up those numbers despite throwing an interception on Baltimore's first possession. Defensively, Yannick Ngakoue got revenge on his old team as he tallied two of Baltimore's five sacks. One of those sacks was a safety that Matthew Judon recorded in the first quarter.|
Dallas 41-33 over San Francisco
|Give credit to San Francisco for fighting to the wire when they had plenty of reason to mail it in when they were down 14-0 in the first quarter. It's that effort that saves them from a failing grade, along with the fact Raheem Mostert was surgically dissecting the Cowboys like a frog in high school science class before leaving with injury. In the end, however, it was lack of discipline that did the 49ers in -- giving the ball away on four separate occasions and then allowing the Cowboys to score touchdowns off their takeaways. By the time C.J. Beathard took over for a struggling Nick Mullens, the game was already basically over, making his successful Hail Mary throw nothing more than a stat line pad. If head coach Kyle Shanahan could've gotten more refined play from his backups and their backups, Dallas wouldn't have won this game. |
|The final score would lead you to believe the Cowboys were an offensive juggernaut in this game, but that's not what actually happened. It was the defense forcing and recovering two fumbles in the first quarter that gave them a short field with which to take a 14-0 lead, and an interception by safety Donovan Wilson and cornerback Anthony Brown led to another 10 points -- 24 in all. From there, the team got a key contribution from backup Tony Pollard, who had a great day in the passing game but struggled on the ground prior to bursting forward to a 40-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. Needing to seal the deal, the Cowboys did, with a 47-yard kick return for a touchdown that closed the 49ers' coffin. Andy Dalton did just enough, but it's his teammates that carry this high grade in a game the Cowboys had to have to stave off playoff elimination. |
49ers-Cowboys grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Miami 22-12 over New England
|This was a game where the Patriots' deficiencies on offense were on full display. The defense did its part in the first half by keeping Miami off the scoreboard, but Cam Newton and the rest of the offense could only manage two field goals as the Dolphins offense stood stagnant. Once Tua Tagovailoa and company found their rhythm in the second half, it was all but over. Even as Miami got out to a six-point lead at the end of the third quarter, it felt like a 26-point deficit the Patriots were facing by the way the offense was able to move the ball. While the defense initially was able to fend off Miami from scoring, the run defense was horrid as the 250 yards on the ground were the fourth-most allowed in the Bill Belichick era. With this loss, the Patriots are officially out of the playoff race and on to 2021. |
|Getting shut out in the first half keeps the Dolphins out of the "A" range, but it was a strong effort nonetheless and their playoff hopes remain intact. Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami offense came out of the halftime locker room and lit up the Patriots defense for 22 points. While the rookie quarterback was efficient with his arm, he was laying down daggers with his feet, rushing for two touchdowns on the day. The ground game was particularly strong for the Dolphins as they totaled 250 yards rushing and three scores. Defensively, Miami did a strong job not shooting themselves in the foot and simply allowed New England's lack of talent offensively to be their undoing.|
Patriots-Dolphins grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Chicago 33-27 over Minnesota
|The Bears received extremely solid play from Mitchell Trubisky, who went 15 of 21 for 202 yards while also rushing for 34 yards on eight carries. Along with giving Trubisky steady protection, Chicago's offensive line carved out running lanes for David Montgomery, who rushed for a career-high 132 yards and two touchdowns. Chicago also received solid efforts from receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney, who combined to catch eight passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, the Bears came up with a pair of fourth-down stops that led to two Cairo Santos field goals. Linebacker Danny Trevathan led the way with 11 tackles, while Sherrick McManis' interception on the game's final play iced the win.|
|The two fourth-down stops really hurt the Vikings, whose 4-of-11 third-down efficiency rate also didn't help their cause. The Vikings were also just 2 of 4 in the red zone, as Chicago's secondary did a good job blanketing Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson in the red zone following Thielen's first quarter touchdown catch. Defensively, the Vikings were unable to keep Mitchell Trubisky inside the pocket, as Chicago's quarterback made numerous plays on the run. Minnesota also had no answer for David Montgomery, who missed Chicago's Week 10 loss to the Vikings with a concussion. The Vikings squandered big offensive contributions from Dalvin Cook (132 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries) and Jefferson (eight catches 104 yards), who on Sunday broke Randy Moss' franchise record for receptions by a rookie.|
Bears-Vikings grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Seattle 20-15 over Washington
|The Seahawks didn't do anything special on offense this week, but they didn't necessarily have to. Russell Wilson didn't have his typical explosive performance, as he threw for just 121 yards, one touchdown and an interception, but Seattle was still able to secure a 17-point third quarter. Washington did mount a comeback in the fourth, but Seattle's defense rose to the occasion and stonewalled Washington near the red zone to win the game. The Seahawks just needed to record a win to keep pace with the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West, and they took care of business on Sunday.|
|It took two full quarters, but second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins finally found some rhythm in the second half. He led two touchdown drives in a row during a 12-0 Washington run, but couldn't lead a third consecutive scoring drive to keep Washington's four-game win streak alive. Once again, it was Washington's defense who kept this game close, as they held the Seahawks to just 302 total yards of offense. You have to commend Haskins on his ability to bounce back in the fourth quarter, but this team is more effective with Alex Smith under center.|
Seahawks-Washington grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
N.Y. Jets 23-20 over L.A. Rams
|The Jets are probably going to eventually regret not going 0-16 and that's because this win could cost them a chance at Trevor Lawrence. That being said, Lawrence or no Lawrence, this grade is about how the Jets played in this game and all they did was pull off one of the five biggest point spread upsets of the past 40 years. The Jets got the win by making big plays and playing smart football (something they haven't really been known for this year). The Jets got two early field goals off Rams mistakes (blocked punt, interception) to help propel them out to an early lead. Sam Darnold didn't get intimidated by a tough Rams defense as he led the Jets to a touchdown on their opening drive of the game and their opening drive of the second half. Those scores aside, Darnold's biggest play came in the fourth quarter when he converted a third-and-6 with a six-yard pass to Frank Gore with two minutes left to play to ice the game. It was a fitting way to clinch the game since Darnold and Gore were both a big reason why the Jets won.|
|If you lose to the Jets, you get an "F," it's that simple. In what was easily the most embarrassing loss of the season for any team, the Rams fell asleep at the wheel during a first half that included a blocked punt by the Jets and an interception from Jared Goff. The Rams had a chance to tie this game with by attempting a 55-yard field goal attempt with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Sean McVay decided to go for it on fourth-and-4 and the Rams failed to convert, which wasn't too surprising given that they failed at almost everything they did in this game. The Rams were only able to muster 303 yards of offense to a Jets team that went into the game having surrendered the third-most yards in the NFL this year.|
Arizona 33-26 over Philadelphia
|The Eagles got a masterful performance from Jalen Hurts in his second career start, as Hurts was just the third rookie quarterback since 1950 to throw for 330-plus passing yards and run for 60-plus yards in a game with four-plus touchdowns. Hurts did whatever he could to keep the Eagles in it, despite being down three starters in the secondary, using his arm to keep Philadelphia in the game. The Eagles' playoff hopes appear to be dashed, but they have something in Hurts. He may be their quarterback in 2021.|
|Have to give the Cardinals credit for winning a thriller against an Eagles team that played for their playoff lives. They almost blew a 16-0 lead and might have lost if the Eagles didn't lose their punter and holder on kicks. DeAndre Hopkins was fantastic against a banged-up Eagles secondary (nine catches, 169 yards, one touchdown) and the Cardinals defense adjusted to Jalen Hurts throwing for three touchdowns in the first half. Special teams were the difference in the game for both teams and the resulted in an eight-point swing for Arizona, which won by 7. In a game the Cardinals had to have, they emerged victorious and look ready to head to the playoffs for the first time in five years. |
Eagles-Cardinals grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 32-29 over New Orleans
|Andy Reid dialed up some exotic play designs and Patrick Mahomes tossed some improbable passes. It is a glowing description of a game plan that Chiefs fans witness on a near weekly basis. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are on historic paces and the Kansas City defense made some crucial plays when called upon. The team appears to be hitting its stride at the absolute perfect time. The only concerns to emerge from this contest were late injuries to running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le'Veon Bell. |
|Considering it was Drew Brees' first outing since fracturing what seemed like every rib in his body and with Michael Thomas absent, New Orleans did well to hold its own against the NFL's reigning champion. The pass rush got after Patrick Mahomes for nearly the entire game. Although it led to some post-play scuffles and the eventual ejection of Cam Jordan, the Saints rattled Mahomes' cage 11 times over the course of the game. Sean Payton did his best to design a competitive game plan but New Orleans' offense is not yet operating on all cylinders. Few fans of the NFC's leading contender are looking to take moral victories out of this one but it was an encouraging display.|
Chiefs-Saints grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Cleveland 20-6 over N.Y. Giants
|Were they spectacular on Sunday night? Not necessarily. (The early run D could use some work.) But here's the thing: They didn't need to be! Why bother feeding Nick Chubb a ton of carries when Baker Mayfield can just pick apart a typically feisty Giants secondary? Hats off to both Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins, who continue to produce as Mayfield's rock-solid, if unflashy, pass catchers. Oh, and Olivier Vernon? Talk about a pass rusher returning to form. Cleveland is the real deal. They can play in shootouts. And they can win slow, steady, clean, efficient games, like this one.|
|Look, the expectations should've been low coming in, with Daniel Jones out, James Bradberry sidelined and Freddie Kitchens (!) calling the plays. And the G-Men do deserve credit for running the ball well out of the gate. But that's about all they did well all night. Colt McCoy epitomized the chuck-it-up-and-see-what-happens style of QB play in place of Jones, the Giants wasted at least two red-zone trips with wonky decisions, and the defense had seemingly no answer for Baker Mayfield's short and mid-range strikes throughout the night. With a winnable division basically on the line, they were not up to the task.|
Browns-Giants grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Cincinnati 27-17 over Pittsburgh
|The Steelers have a lot of problems on offense and they were all on display against the Browns: They can't run the ball, they can't hold on to the ball (they lost two fumbles) and on a day where it was reported that Ben Roethlisberger would be returning next year, he played like a QB who might want to think about hanging it up after this season. Although Roethlisberger only threw one pick, he had at least four other passes that could have been intercepted. Defensively, the Steelers limited the Bengals to just 230 yards, but that wasn't good enough, because Pittsburgh's offense kept putting them in an impossible position. The Steelers had three turnovers and each set the Bengals up with the ball inside Pittsburgh's 40-yard line. This was an embarrassing loss for the Steelers and the problem is there doesn't seem to be a quick fix to their problems. The Steelers' offense has been on life support the past three weeks and on Monday, it finally flat-lined.|
|With the Bengals down to their third-string quarterback in Ryan Finley, no one really gave them a chance to win, but they were able to pull off the miracle thanks to one of their most well-rounded performances of the season. Finley's passing numbers won't blow anyone away (7 of 13, 89 yards), but he did come up with several key runs, including a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that ended up up icing the game. Defensively, the Bengals made big play after big play and the three biggest plays came in the first half with three turnovers that eventually led to 17 points. The Steelers simply had no answers for a Bengals defense that was swarming everywhere. This is the first time the Bengals have beaten the Steelers since 2015.|