Mitchell Trubisky gives Bears fans reasons to be encouraged

CINCINNATI -- It’s what Chicago Bears fans waited all year to see.

Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky turned in his most impressive NFL performance to date in Sunday’s 33-7 laugher over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Trubisky had shown glimpses throughout the season, but on Sunday, the second-overall pick strung together four quarters of consistent football.

Trubisky was on the money. He finished 25-of-32 for 271 yards and one passing touchdown against Cincinnati’s depleted secondary. Trubisky also rushed for a 5-yard touchdown for good measure.

The Bears kept it simple for Trubisky early on, but he took more chances down the field as the game loosened up in the Bears’ favor. For a quarterback who struggled much of the year with accuracy, Trubisky was on point the entire afternoon.

The key for Trubisky will be to play like this all the time, but Sunday was his most encouraging all-around effort since the preseason opener against Denver. That cannot be disputed.

What it means: Injuries left both teams undermanned on Sunday, but the Bears showed up ready to play. Cincinnati did not. That won’t be enough to save certain people’s jobs at Halas Hall, but it sure beats the alternative. The Bengals looked lifeless. So did the miniscule crowd (52,002 was the announced attendance) at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bears don’t blow many teams out. Enjoy it.

What I liked: Trubisky, obviously. Besides the play of the quarterback, wide receiver Kendall Wright had a productive afternoon working out of the slot. Wright had his best game as a Bear with 10 catches for 107 yards. On defense, cornerback Kyle Fuller won several one-on-one battles with Cincinnati’s six-time Pro Bowl wideout, A.J. Green. Also, safety Eddie Jackson had an interception and forced fumble/fumble recovery.

What I didn’t like: John Fox went 1-for-2 on challenges on Sunday, but the one he lost was a doozy. The officials called Trubisky for a blatant illegal forward pass in the first quarter, yet Fox still threw the red challenge flag. Of course, Fox lost the challenge. The Bears were also called for way too many penalties. Chicago actually had more penalties called against it than Cincinnati -- 10 to 7. Remember, the Bengals just set a single-game franchise record Monday for penalty yards last, versus Pittsburgh.

Fantasy fallout: Trubisky, Wright and Jordan Howard (147 yards and two touchdowns) each had good days for their fantasy owners. Second-round pick Adam Shaheen also had fantasy value on Sunday with a touchdown reception -- the rookie tight end's third of the year.

Milestone man: Howard became the first Bears player to have consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his first two years. Howard, who finished second in rushing last year behind Ezekiel Elliott, entered Week 14 as the league’s fifth leading rusher.

What’s next: The Bears have a slightly condensed work week because they play at Detroit next Saturday. The Lions beat Chicago 27-24 on Nov. 19 at Soldier Field, but the Bears had a chance to send that game into overtime. Ex-Bears kicker Connor Barth missed a 46-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation to ice the game for Detroit.