Finally, at long last, in Week 14, the Bears put it all together.
Their 33-7 victory over the Bengals in Cincinnati was dominant, as they improved to 4-9 while dropping the home team to 5-8. More importantly, the Bears’ rout was led by a bevy of young players who will be instrumental if the coming rebuilding process is to succeed.
Rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, in his ninth pro start, took a giant step in his development. Trubisky completed a career-best 25 passes on 32 attempts for 271 yards and a TD with no interceptions.
Second-year running back Jordan Howard rushed for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries, once again surpassing 1,000 yards for the season.
Wide receiver Kendall Wright (10 catches, 107 yards) had by far his best game of the season, and second-round rookie tight end Adam Shaheen had a breakout game with 4 catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. Fourth-round rookie running back Tarik Cohen added 80 yards on 12 carries.
The defense contributed as well. Rookie safety Eddie Jackson picked off a deflected Andy Dalton pass, ending the Bengals’ quarterback’s streak of 192 passes without an interception in the third quarter. Then, early in the fourth quarter, the fourth-round pick from Alabama ripped the ball away from perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green and recovered the fumble.
Cornerback Kyle Fuller continued his resurgence by keeping Green under wraps most of the day. Lamarr Houston had 2 sacks, giving him 3 in two weeks since his return.
With 4:54 left in the third quarter, Trubisky ran 4 yards untouched on a zone read keeper that gave the Bears a 19-7 lead. By that point in the game, the Bears already had rolled up more total yardage than in their previous two games combined.
Looking nothing like the pathetic offense that was held to fewer than 150 yards in each of the past two games, the Bears had 256 yards in the first half. Trubisky completed 17 of 23 passes for 170 yards and Jordan Howard ran 11 times for 63 yards. The Bears came into the game averaging an NFL-worst 275.8 yards per game.
But after putting together two long drives, the Bears settled for short field goals in the second quarter of 34 and 27 yards by new kicker Mike Nugent, which gave them a 12-7 halftime lead.
For the first time in more than a year, the Bears scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the game, on a 21-yard run by Howard. But Nugent missed his first extra-point attempt as a Bear, clanking it off the right upright and leaving them with a 6-0 lead.
The Bears hadn’t reached the endzone with an opening possession since Nov. 20, 2016.
With 2:15 left in the first quarter, the Bengals went up 7-6 when Andy Dalton tossed a 14-yard TD pass to Brando LaFell.
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