Before heading into hibernation, the Chicago Bears are feasting on wins to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The hot streak coincided with Mitchell Trubisky and the offense finally coming to life, with the QB generating back-to-back three-touchdown-pass performances.
"It feels good when you put the hard work in and it comes to life out on the field," Trubisky said, via the Chicago Tribune. "But for me and this team, that makes us hungrier. And we continue to want that feeling week after week."
The difficulty of the stretch to close the season suggests it's a long shot for Chicago to sneak into January play, but we've seen crazier things happen. The Packers haven't looked otherworldly. The Chiefs are beatable, with an offense that hasn't quite clicked in recent weeks. Pull out those two, get some help, and Chicago could set up a Week 17 matchup with Minnesota for a playoff spot.
"He's balling out there," left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. "That's what I love to see. I don't like when Mitch feels like he's got to make this play or do this and do all that. No, just play ball. Be you. That dude is a baller. He's an improviser. He makes (stuff) happen with his legs. Go out there and do that."
Trubisky stunk earlier in the season, with most of Chicago ready to toss him into Lake Michigan. The past several weeks, however, the quarterback has gotten back to what gave him some promise last season: using his legs.
When the signal-caller tries to be a straight drop-back passer, it usually doesn't end well. When he's using his feet to scamper out of the pocket and make defenses contend with all 11 offensive players on the field, it works.
In Thursday night's win, Trubisky rushed for a season-high 63 yards on 10 attempts, including a pretty touchdown scurry that broke the Cowboys' backs.
"It was very evident that he used (his legs) as a weapon. We saw some things that we liked in regards to the run scheme," coach Matt Nagy said. "And, heck, whenever he's able to use his legs like that, he becomes another running back. ... They've got to respect that. They have to understand where he's at. And when you make good decisions and you're able to use your own self as a ball carrier, there are advantages across the board."
Trubisky's ability to gash defenses with his legs makes the Bears offense much more difficult to get off the field. According to Pro Football Focus, on Thursday night, he gained three first downs and 32 rush yards on four scrambles (as opposed to designed runs) -- he had generated four first downs on 14 scrambles all season entering the game.
The QB used a combination of runs, dimes into tight coverage and quick passes to perplex a Cowboys defense that couldn't tackle an artificial Christmas tree. According to Next Gen Stats, Trubisky was 17-of-20 for 169 yards and two TDs on quick passes (fewer than 2.5 seconds to throw) -- 139.6 passer rating, four pass TD on quick passes in last two games.
"We followed our leader Mitch," running back David Montgomery said. "For me, it's like an 'ah-ha!' moment. Because you see somebody work so hard day-in and day-out. But you're finally able to see it. A lot of people kind of jumped ship on 10, but Coach Nagy always preaches about staying together as one, and Mitch steps up. I'm just happy for him and happy he's our quarterback."
Will that 'ah-ha' moment lead to the light staying on for the Bears' season or is Trubisky's latest string of positive play opponent-based, and he'll turn back into the mistake-prone sitting duck we saw early in the season?
If those playoff hopes are to last more than a week, Chicago needs Trubisky to continue to use his legs and keep his hot streak going.