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Friday December 9th

Tar Heels in the Pros: Mitch Trubisky shines in NFL playoff debut

<p>UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) attempts a pass under pressure&nbsp;in a 48-20 win over Georgia Tech on Nov. 5. Trubisky will forgo his senior season and&nbsp;enter the 2017 NFL Draft.</p>
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UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) attempts a pass under pressure in a 48-20 win over Georgia Tech on Nov. 5. Trubisky will forgo his senior season and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

On Sunday, former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky led the Chicago Bears offense as they took on the Philadelphia Eagles in the finale of the NFC Wild Card playoff round.

Going into Sunday’s matchup against the Eagles, Trubisky was showing great improvement from his play at the start of the season. In the first three games of the regular season Trubisky threw for just 591 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions with a 69.2 percent completion rate. In his final three games of the regular season, Trubisky had 644 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while boasting a 75.9 percent completion rate.

Much like the regular season, the NFC Wild Card game featured a lackluster start followed by a strong finish by the former Tar Heel.

In the first quarter, Trubisky completed three of his seven passes for only 19 yards. He ended the quarter with a passer rating of just 50.3 and the Bears faced a 3-0 deficit to the Eagles.

Trubisky appeared to shake off whatever jitters he was dealing with in his first playoff game during the second quarter. After the Bears caught a break with an unnecessary roughness penalty, Trubisky had a 19-yard pass to running back Tarik Cohen to get the Bears into field goal range and eventually tie the game.

Later in the quarter, Trubisky was able to show off his 2-minute drill skills. The Bears gained possession with 2:38 left in the first half on their own 11-yard line. Trubisky got a quick first down off a 9-yard completion to wide receiver Anthony Miller, followed by another 23-yard pass down the middle of the field to Miller again.

Just three plays later, a Philadelphia penalty brought the Bears to the Eagles 42-yard line. Trubisky was able to complete 2 of 5 passes on the next five plays for 19 yards, bringing the Bears into field goal range yet again. Cody Parkey successfully kicked his second field goal of the day for the Bears as they went into halftime with a 6-3 lead.

Trubisky posted a passer rating of 95.0 in the third quarter, thanks in part to a 45-yard bomb to wide receiver Allen Robinson with less than a minute remaining in the quarter. That pass set the Bears up for their third field goal of the day as they trailed the Eagles, 10-9, early in the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter was where Trubisky was truly able to shine. During his drive that began with just under 12 minutes left, Trubisky had three completions for at least 19 yards each, including a 34-yard find that would have been a touchdown had the receiver Joshua Bellamy been able to stay on his feet, and a 22-yard pass to Robinson that did result in a touchdown with just over 9 minutes remaining in the game. The Bears failed to complete the 2-point conversion off a quick toss to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, giving the ball back to Philadelphia holding a 15-10 lead.

With just under 5 minutes remaining, there was a palpable element of suspense beginning to form. The Eagles were able to march down the field and score a touchdown, but they also failed their 2-point conversion, giving Philadelphia just a 1-point lead with 56 seconds remaining.

Trubisky got some help from Cohen when the running back was able return the kickoff 35 yards. Trubisky took the field with under a minute to play on his own 42-yard line and threw an incomplete pass on his first play. On his second play, the 24-year-old kept his composure and threaded a 25-yard pass to Robinson between two defenders. After another quick completion to Robinson directly after, the Bears found themselves on the Philadelphia 25-yard line.

After a spike from Trubisky and an incomplete pass, Parkey took the field having made all three previous kicks on the day. He drove his first attempt at the 43-yard field goal right down the middle, however it was for nothing as the Eagles had snuck in a timeout to ice the kicker. On his second attempt, Parkey hit both the upright and the crossbar and Bears fans everywhere could do nothing but watch as the ball fell to the ground and bounced onto the grass of Soldier Field.

Trubisky finished the game completing 26 of 43 passes for 303 yards (a Bears franchise playoff record) and one touchdown. He became the youngest Bears quarterback with a touchdown pass in the playoffs since Doug Flutie in the 1986 NFC divisional round against the Washington Redskins.

@McMastersJ

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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