Case Keenum, Vikings Sneak Past Bears in Mitchell Trubisky's NFL Debut

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2017

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09:  Kyle Rudolph #82 and quarterback  Case Keenum #7 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrate after Rudolph scored against the Chicago Bears in the third quarter at Soldier Field on October 9, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears got the Mitchell Trubisky era off on the wrong foot as they fell 20-17 to the Minnesota Vikings Monday night at Soldier Field.

While much of the attention entering the game focused on Trubisky making his NFL debut as a starter, Case Keenum stole the show by going 17-of-21 for 140 yards and a touchdown.

Trubisky's lack of experience was exposed late in the game when he threw an interception to Harrison Smith on a 1st-and-10 at his own 10-yard line with 2:32 left in the game. That helped set up a 26-yard field goal by Kai Forbath with 16 seconds remaining to put Minnesota ahead 20-17.

CBS Sports' Matt Norlander thought the late turnover was all too familiar for Bears fans:

Trubisky finished with 128 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 12-of-25 passing. He received some luck on the first passing touchdown of his NFL career. His pass into the end zone to tight end Zach Miller bounced off the hands of Andrew Sendejo. The touchdown and successful two-point conversion tied the game 17-17 with 12:24 left in the fourth quarter.

NFL shared a replay of Trubisky's throw:

That was one of the few highlights for the No. 2 overall pick. Trubisky flashed some promise, but the interception illustrated he's bound to make a few big mistakes as he adjusts to playing in the NFL.

Thinking more optimistically, there's little from Monday night that should give the Bears pause about making Trubisky their quarterback of the future.

Minnesota's quarterback situation looks a little less settled.

Sam Bradford made his first start after suffering a knee injury that kept him out since Minnesota's Week 1 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Bradford only played one half as it became rapidly clear the knee continued to bother the veteran quarterback.

Free-agent passer Robert Griffin III has experienced his fair share of knee injuries and thought Bradford needed to be replaced for his own good:

Keenum came into the game with 25 seconds left in the first half after Bradford went 5-of-11 for 36 yards and got sacked four times.

Bradford's lack of mobility helped the Bears get their first points of the game. Leonard Floyd sacked him in the end zone for a safety with 1:38 left in the first quarter. The NFL shared a replay of the safety:

Forbath connected on a 26-yard field goal with 1:06 remaining in the half to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead, but the offenses labored heavily through the first two quarters. Dealing with Bradford's knee issues and Dalvin Cook's absence, Minnesota had 55 total yards in the opening half.

Keenum helped reinvigorate the Vikings offense. He engineered a scoring drive that doubled the team's total yards as Minnesota traveled 75 yards to increase its lead to eight points after the extra point, 10-2.

The Bears offense, on the other hand, still struggled to move the ball against the Minnesota defense.

Sensing an opportunity, head coach John Fox called for a fake punt on 4th-and-6 at the Vikings' 38-yard line. The gamble paid off as punter Pat O'Donnell found Benny Cunningham for a touchdown pass. The NFL offered a second look at the play:

Chicago put together another scoring drive that culminated in Miller's touchdown grab in response to Jerick McKinnon's 58-yard touchdown run for the Vikings in the third quarter.

The Bears were unable to break the 17-17 deadlock on their next two possessions. The first ended in a three-and-out, and Trubisky's interception brought the second to a premature conclusion.

With the playoffs looking like a bridge too far through five games, the rest of the Bears' 2017 season will likely be about giving Trubisky time to develop under center. His continued improvement will give fans something to cheer about in what could be a fourth straight losing season.

Chicago moves to 1-4 with the loss. The Bears will hit the road to take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in Week 6. They're 3-2 all-time against the Ravens, winning their most recent head-to-head meeting in November 2013.

Minnesota, which is 3-2 with Monday's result, has another NFC North clash ahead as it takes on the Green Bay Packers, who are first in the division with a 4-1 record. The Vikings have dropped six of their last nine against their division rivals (including a tie).