CHICAGO -- The curtain came down swiftly on the opening night of Mitch-a-palooza after Mitchell Trubisky tossed a game-sealing interception inside his own 25-yard-line with just over two minutes remaining.
The pick came as the rookie rolled to his right trying to find tight end Zach Miller. Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith broke on the pass, swiping the ball and a chance for Trubisky to make a game-winning drive in his NFL debut.
"That's Mitch being a baller and trying to make a play. And for me I'd like to get back and break that up for him," Miller said after the 20-17 loss.
Despite tossing the interception, Trubisky's difference-making talent was obvious from the start as he made a heretofore zombie-like offense come to life.
"Our guys feel it. They feel his presence," coach John Fox said. "I know he scrambled for a first down. I know they were able to do some different things with him as far as attacking the corner. For a first outing, I thought he was really good. I know his teammates feel the same way and he'll just get better with time."
Mitch-a-palooza started out hot Monday night, with the rookie displaying pinpoint accuracy and rolling out of the pocket to dart passes all over the field. Penalties bogged down the Bears' offense in the first half, wiping away scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity. The party then hit a lull as Trubisky struggled, missing connection after connection. It then heated back up late in the fourth quarter as the Bears rallied to tie the score at 17. Then, like cops getting called to a block party, the mood was quickly wiped away by the interception.
While Trubisky took fault for the pick, teammates placed the blame for the loss on their shoulders, pointing to penalties that took points off the board early and missed assignments that led to botched plays.
"I thought he was really good, extended the plays for us," Miller said of the rookie quarterback. "Made plays downfield. Made plays with his legs. [He] put us in position to win that game. What we need to do is be better collectively around him. Too many pre-snap penalties. Too many things we are breaking down in technique ... I think he did everything he could for us to win that game. I'm excited for his future because he's a baller."
The stats were pedestrian: 12-of-25 passing for 128 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Yet watching the Bears' offense, you couldn't help but notice a vast difference between Trubisky running the show and the Mike Glennon flailing operation we witnessed the first four games. Trubisky's elite accuracy was on display as Chicago rolled the rookie out of the pocket often and utilized play action to open passing lanes.
"The way we came out. First drive, he's dealing the whole time," Miller said of what impressed him about Trubisky. "He's getting outside the pocket breaking things down with his legs. I mean, he did everything really well aside from just late in the game where we all need to take better care of the ball collectively. I think he did a hell of a job for us."
The move to Trubisky wasn't about winning this week; it was about establishing a quarterback of the future and allowing him to grow on the field. The rookie received rave reviews from his locker room, despite the loss.
"He just has a very quiet confidence about him" guard Kyle Long said. "His preparation is obvious. He knows all the checks. He knows how to calm down a group of fat guys out there that are frantic."
Added receiver Kendall Wright: "He carries himself as a leader. I definitely think he'll bounce back. He's the type of guy that if he could, he'd try to go do something extra right now."
There will be growing pains for the rookie -- as we saw with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz last year -- but Trubisky showed flashes of why the Bears believe he has a chance to be the player that finally ends the decades-long search for a franchise quarterback.
While discussing the rookie's first touchdown pass, which was tipped to the tight end, Miller gave a glimpse of the what might make Trubisky a special talent.
"The route was supposed to be a far corner, but here is the thing that's really good about Mitch that people aren't going to notice: His eyes directly told me where to go. Space that was wide open," Miller said. "And I'm supposed to go to the corner, and the safety's trying to cut me. And Mitch says, with his eyes, I can see him the whole time that he was going to throw it back that way. Devine intervention for us. That's just another part of his game that people aren't going to see, but it's awesome."
Mitch-a-palooza didn't turn into a rave on Monday night. But there are small signs that the party might just be ramping up if Bears fans are patient enough.