Mitchell Trubisky's NFL debut had an awful ending after the Chicago Bears lost 20-17 to the Minnesota Vikings.
With Monday's game tied at Soldier Field, the 23-year-old Bears rookie quarterback was intercepted by Vikings safety Harrison Smith with 2:20 remaining.
Smith's interception — the second turnover of the night for Trubisky — set up Kai Forbath's 26-yard field goal as the Vikings held on for victory.
Trubisky, who was the second overall pick of April's NFL Draft, was inconsistent in his first start. He finished 12 of 25 for 119 yards with a lucky touchdown and the late interception. He also fumbled in the second quarter as Everson Griffen's strip-sack set up a Forbath field goal before half-time.
As each offence struggled early, the Bears got on the board first when Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd sacked Vikings starter Sam Bradford for a safety with 1:31 remaining in the first quarter. Bradford, playing for the first time since the season opener, held the ball for over four seconds in his own end zone.
Bradford was sacked four times and he was replaced before half-time by Case Keenum, who led a touchdown drive in the third quarter to give the Vikings a 10-2 lead. Keenum was sharp, going 17 of 21 for 140 yards and the score.
After the Bears scored on a fake punt, Jerick McKinnon put the Vikings up 17-9 with a 58-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Trubisky got a little lucky with his first NFL touchdown pass. His throw to Heath Miller in the end zone was deflected by Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo, but the former was able to snare the ball off the tip.
Trubisky then tied the game on a two-point conversion thanks to some trickery. He took the snap and handed off to running back Jordan Howard, who handed off to Miller. Miller then pitched it to Trubisky, who ran it into the end zone.
Keenum played well in relief of Bradford, but it was McKinnon who drove the Vikings offence. McKinnon ran for 95 yards on 16 carries as the surprise feature back. Latavius Murray got the start after rookie Dalvin Cook was ruled out for the year last week with a knee injury. Murray had just 31 yards on 12 carries.
The Bears also used a trick play to get their first touchdown on a 38-yard pass from punter Pat O'Donnell to running back Benny Cunningham. The fake punt caught the Vikings completely off-guard as Cunningham was left wide open in the middle of the field.
Keenum said Minnesota's first scoring drive helped lift some nerves.
"Whenever you got three-and-out for a few series in a row, you kind of tense up," Keenum told ESPN. "Once you get a first down, you get some momentum. Then when you get into the end zone and guys start celebrating, that gets the juices flowing."
TOO SOON FOR BRADFORD
It was clear Bradford was not ready to come back from his knee injury and Keenum currently provides the Vikings with the best opportunity to win. As for the Bears quarterback situation, Trubisky should be the guy moving forward. Without great options at receiver, Trubisky was able to manage the game and showed the Bears they have someone around whom to build the offence.
While the Bears get set for the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday, the Vikings will have to decide who starts at quarterback when they face the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers.
21. März 2018
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