Realistically, the competitive portion of the Vikings' 2020 season has ended because Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen et. al couldn't keep pace in a shootout with …
Yep. In a 33-27 win at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Bears quarterback who won't be invited back to Chicago in 2021 kept his team in the hunt with six straight scoring possessions and only one Trubisky-headed mistake — an interception in the end zone on third-and-goal while leading by 3 with 2 minutes, 57 seconds left.
No problem though. The Vikings hot-potatoed the opportunity away with another one of those confounding late-game three-and-outs that are unbefitting a top-10 NFL offense and one of the league's highest-paid quarterbacks.
So, two games are left. The Bears are 7-7 and the Vikings are 6-8 and left by the roadside listening to a Bears head coach say this about a disappointing quarterback he benched for a couple months earlier this season:
"I thought Mitchell did a great job commanding the offense and making smart decisions," Matt Nagy said of a quarterback who is 2-2 since his return to the lineup. "It was great to see the way that he ran the offense all day. The decision making with these [bootlegs] getting to the edge. It's a stress to the defense with the moving parts."
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer agreed.
A month ago, the Nick Foles-led Bears offense posted two field goals, 10 first downs and 149 yards while converting two of 11 third downs. Sunday, the Bears had 397 yards, 199 of them rushing, and went six of 12 on third down with Trubisky converting three with his right arm and three with his legs.
"We didn't do a good job against the bootlegs and didn't do a good job on the run game," Zimmer said. "That was really disappointing."
It helped Trubisky that David Montgomery, who missed the first meeting, played in this one. All he did was rush for 146 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 32 carries.
But while Trubisky's numbers were modest — 15 of 21 for 202 yards, one touchdown, one interception, a 97.7 passer rating and a season-high eight carries for 34 yards and four first downs — he took no backseat to Cousins. Well, except for the ill-advised pass Trubisky forced into the end zone that Cameron Dantzler intercepted.
"Confidence is very important," Trubisky said. "I don't want to quite say night and day but our confidence is way up from earlier in the season, where it just seemed like we were a little unsure about what we wanted to do, who we wanted to be.
"We have more of an identity now. It starts with running the football and then the play action, movement game that comes off that."
The Bears won the coin toss and showed Trubisky their faith by taking the ball to start the game. He took a bad sack to go three-and-out.
But then he got rolling. On his next third-down opportunity, he hit Allen Robinson for 24 yards on a deep sideline pass on third-and-3. He later capped that drive by lobbing a touch pass over a rushing defender for an 8-yard touchdown to rookie Darnell Mooney for a 7-0 lead.
Trubisky completed only three of his six third-down passes for 53 yards and three first downs. But he showed good judgment on two of his three third-down misses, knowing his red-hot kicker, Cairo Santos, would make his field-goal attempts to extend the lead to 10-7 and 20-7. He also scrambled for 1 yard on third-and-4, allowing Santos to make another field goal for a 30-20 lead.
On the Bears' fourth possession a 13-play, 76-yard touchdown march that took 7:19 and gave the Bears a 10-point lead — Trubisky opened with a 16-yard completion and also ran for two third-down conversions, including a 7-yarder on third-and-2 from the Vikings' 8.
"We know he likes to run the ball; he likes to scramble, get in space and make throws," Dantzler said. "So I thought we were prepared. We just didn't execute as well as we should have."
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: email@example.com