Mitch Trubisky did more than play his best game of the season when the Bears needed it most in Thursday's resounding win vs. the Dallas Cowboys, he made NFL history:
So how did Trubisky's teammates react to his prime-time explosion, a cathartic night for one of the NFL's most maligned players?
“For me, it was like an “ah-ha” moment. You see someone work so hard, day in and day out. You can see it paying off," said top pick David Montgomery, a tackle-breaking machine Thursday in out-gaining reigning NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott, 86 yards to 81. "A lot of people kind of jumped ship on him. But Coach Nagy always preaches about staying together as one. Mitch steps up. I’m happy for him and I’m happy that he is our quarterback.”
And in addition to the players, Nagy deserves a ton of credit for (A) calling his best game of the season and (B) maintaining his unrelenting optimism during the darker times earlier in the season to help ensure his team remained united.
"I think one thing is for sure: everybody is seeing what type of people we have on this football team," he said following the Bears' fourth win in the past five tries, keeping alive their faint playoff hopes heading to Lambeau for the Week 1 rematch with their biggest rivals. "No one has flinched. We've pulled together, become even tighter. We're winning football games now. We're playing as a team."
Perhaps even more than for Trubisky, Nagy's praise for his offensive line Thursday night was in abundance after a performance in which it mitigated Dallas' dangerous pass rush and opened some of its bigger holes in the run and screen games. The communication hub of the group, C Cody Whitehair admitted Trubisky's scrambling — a season-high 9 carries and 63 yards, including a highlight-reel 23-yard touchdown run moments after Dallas cut its deficit to 10 points — helped fuel not only his unit's effectiveness but the confidence of their quarterback.
“We’re just trying to sustain our blocks and obviously give him time to find an open receiver. It was great (to see)," Whitehair said. "It helps his confidence too. He’s always done that – making plays when you know guys aren’t open and just making them with his legs.”
The unit's longest-tenured starter, Charles Leno, continues to be impressed by Trubisky's resolve. For the second consecutive week, he tossed a bad interception that could've taken the wind out of the Bears' sails, yet for the second straight game, Trubisky channeled it into something positive by elevating his and the offense's play.
“I told everybody this last week – it’s not fazing him," said Leno, who earned big praise from Trubisky for the key block on the scoring scramble. "He’s the same guy whether he throws a pick or he doesn’t. Whatever it is, he’s the same guy from the beginning of the game to the end of the game, and that’s what I love about him.”
Anthony Miller is still learning how to consistently abide by the next-play-mentality that Nagy preaches. And although his 3-42 receiving line was actually his most pedestrian during his second-half surge in Year 2, the team's receiving TD leader as a rookie finally found the end zone for the first time Thursday on a beautifully executed screen that showed off his dangerous post-catch ability.
Still, it was after Trubisky's own rushing touchdown that Miller enjoyed his biggest celebration. Trubisky called it a special moment between he and his teammates, and here's the summation from Miller on what he said to his quarterback.
“I can’t tell you what I specifically said, but I was just telling him that, ‘You’re doin’ it, man. You’re running stuff. You’re proving the doubters wrong.’ You know what I mean?" said Miller, who continues to look more and more like the dynamic Allen Robinson sidekick Ryan Pace envisioned when he traded a second-round pick to acquire the Memphis Grinder. "We been rocking with him this whole time and finally everything is clicking, and you might see some people just try to jump on his bandwagon or something like that, but we know who’s been there the whole time and who hasn’t. You know, all we need is us and the people who been rocking with us.”
Trubisky has had his teammates' support all along. He's likely gaining some new followers during his overdue recent stretch of strong play. Just don't expect him to stop and revel, not with much work still ahead this season.
"I don't care about [individual success]. I just want to try to get better every week, continue to stay hungry, progress each week," he said. "We've gotten better over the last couple weeks, I'm talking about as a team, that's what's most important to me. That is what allows you to get better as an individual, is if you focus on the team first, focus on the guys around you."
Doubts rightly remain regarding Trubisky's ability to sustain a consistent level of play, never mind the spectacular performance he authored Thursday. There's zero doubt regarding the respect and support he commands inside his own locker room.