On Sunday, I was able to head out to Soldier Field to see the Chicago Bears take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While I was unable to take my usual day-after recap this week - ECD did a great job in my absence - I got to enjoy the game like a true fan, which is something I haven’t been able to do in quite a while.
The Bears entered the matchup with a 2-1 record, and they had momentum on their side coming off of two straight wins. Combine that with the hot play of the Buccaneers heading into the game, and I expected a game that the crowd would be invested in from start to finish. In a way, I was right, but it wasn’t for the reason I had expected.
The Bears jumped out to a lead less than three minutes into the first quarter off of a touchdown pass from Mitchell Trubisky to Trey Burton on a wheel route. Considering Trubisky’s relative lack of flashy plays on deep passes, the play served as a confidence booster for both the quarterback, the team and the fans. Little did we know that that pass was just a taste of what was to come.
Trubisky, in case you haven’t heard already, went on to throw six touchdowns, four more than his career-high up to that point. Add in 354 passing yards, a 73.1 completion percentage, no interceptions and 53 yards on the ground, and the Bears’ 2017 first-round pick put together the best game of his young career en route to a 48-10 victory.
Chicago’s defense was spectacular, too. They limited Ryan Fitzpatrick to 126 passing yards and a 50 percent completion percentage, picking him off once and sacking him twice. Jameis Winston, who made his return from a three-game suspension, was picked off twice and sacked twice. The Bears held the Buccaneers to 311 offensive yards, they put consistent pressure on the quarterback, and they continued to force turnovers in ways that last year’s defense struggled to do. Khalil Mack picked up a fumble and a sack. Again. Eddie Jackson snagged his second interception of the season. Even fifth-round rookie Bilal Nichols had a fantastic game, ending up with 2.5 tackles for a loss and half of a sack.
Amid their team’s dominance on both sides of the ball, Bears fans cheered every step of the way. Over the past few years, Soldier Field has been plagued by poor attendance and several no-shows, but one would not have been able to tell based off of Sunday’s game. The crowd was red hot in the first half, and those who didn’t choose to beat traffic still maintained a palpable amount of energy. I started losing my voice in the first quarter, which shows how much fun being at the game in person was.
For the first time in years, there was hope in the air along Lake Michigan. After years of despair, Bears fans got to experience a truly dominant team. And I’m glad I got to be a part of it.
Jacob Infante is a Chicago Bears writer at SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron. He is also the lead NFL Draft analyst for The Blitz Network, and he additionally covers the NFL Draft for USA Today’s Draft Wire. He can be reached through Twitter @jacobinfante24 or e-mailed at email@example.com.