Emma: Bears-Cowboys Observations

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Where has this team been?
Finally looking like the team they believed they could be this season, the Bears beat the Cowboys, 31-24, at Soldier Field on Thursday night for their third straight victory. In doing so, they improved to 7-6 and kept their bleak playoff hopes alive.

Here are the observations of the evening.

Mitch is free

When Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky walked out of the Los Angeles Coliseum late on the night of Nov. 17, there were legitimate questions regarding his future with the organization.

Trubisky had just been pulled from a game due to what was later revealed to be a left hip pointer, though confusion initially reigned after the national television broadcast speculated that he was being benched for poor play. Trubisky looked dejected after being pulled and again later as he met the media.

Less than three weeks later, Trubisky produced a third consecutive strong performance Thursday. He completed 23 of 31 passes for 244 yards, three touchdowns and an interception while rushing 10 times for 63 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown run.

Trubisky appeared to be smiling as he rushed for his touchdown. He certainly was when Bears teammates mobbed him.

"Really cool moment," Trubisky said.

For much of this season, it appeared Trubisky was being crushed by the burden of leading the Bears amid their high expectations. After the loss to the Rams, he appeared to be a broken player.

Perhaps Trubisky reached a point in which he just stopped acknowledging the pressure on his plate and instead found a way to play free. He's suddenly oozing confidence, and its reflected in his play.

What changed?

"The easy answer is winning," coach Matt Nagy said.

With three games remaining, Trubisky has the opportunity to solidify his place as the Bears' starting quarterback for 2020. That would mark a stark turn of events, and it has all seemingly swung due to his confidence.

On the move

The other turn for Trubisky has come in the offense Nagy has provided him.

Nagy is no longer forcing Trubisky into his system, hoping it all works. Recently, he has better catered to Trubisky by moving the pocket, running more play-action and utilizing Trubisky's mobility as a weapon.

From Nagy's view, shifting the pocket and where Trubisky is making his decisions has been important for both the quarterback and offensive line. 

"You can see that we're benefiting from it," Nagy said.

On Thursday, Trubisky became the first quarterback in NFL history to complete at least 70 percent of his passes (minimum 30 attempts), throw three or more touchdown passes, rush for at least 50 yards and have a rushing touchdown all in one game, according to STATS, Inc.

Meanwhile, a Bears offense that lacked an identity early in the season posted 382 yards and 5.7 yards per play against a tough Cowboys defense.

"We finally feel like the last several weeks, we feel good about where we're at," Nagy said of that identity. "Are we perfect? No. But we feel good about it."

Ro, no

Bears linebacker Roquan Smith tried to stuff Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott at the goal line on the first series of the game and paid the price.

Smith took the brunt of that collision with Elliott and went down in pain, leaving the field straight for the medical tent. He suffered a pectoral injury that's believed to be serious.

"It doesn't look real good for him," Nagy said.

The Bears are down both of their starting inside linebackers after losing Smith, who's likely out for the remainder of the season. Danny Trevathan isn't close to returning from an elbow injury that he suffered in early November.

Now, the Bears' starting inside linebacker tandem is Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis.

The injury to Smith comes as he was playing at a high level, adding two tackles Thursday to bring his 12-game total to 102.

"The way that Roquan has been playing in the last couple weeks, flying around, making plays, you just love that confidence that he's bringing to the defense," Nagy said.

"You feel bad for Roquan, but we know that we have guys that can fill in."

A-Rob keeps producing

Bears receiver Allen Robinson continued continued his stellar season as had five receptions for 48 yards and two touchdowns.

He now has 76 catches for 898 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

Extra points

-- The Bears often speak of "next play mentality" for Trubisky. He showed that after an interception on their opening drive. "Take care of the football, he said. "I was trying to extend the play and didn't make a smart decision. Obviously, came back from that, forgot about it, and was able to go down and move the football very well."

-- For at least one night, the Bears had the better kicker. Eddy Pineiro was trusted to hit a 36-yard field goal. Meanwhile, the Cowboys' Brett Maher missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt wide right. He's now 20-of-30 on field-goal attempts this season. Did Jerry Jones let him on the team charter back to Dallas?

-- With a highly paid veteran in Trey Burton and a 2017 second-round pick in Adam Shaheen both down, the Bears turned to Jesper Horsted and J.P. Holtz as their tight ends. They combined for seven receptions and 92 yards in the win.

-- Why did it take until the fourth quarter for the Cowboys to move top receiver Amari Cooper away from Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller and on to second-year pro Kevin Toliver? The Bears don't move Fuller, meaning the Cowboys were free to create a matchup of Toliver on Cooper. The garbage-time touchdown for Cooper could've come much earlier in the game.

-- The Bears' playoff odds reached 5% with their win, per FiveThirtyEight. They could double to 10% if the Lions (3-8-1) beat the Vikings (8-4) in Minneapolis on Sunday. So you're saying there's a chance?

-- Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks must have been the happiest guy in Soldier Field on Thursday. He can now look forward to a return -- likely in Green Bay on Dec. 15 -- to meaningful football.

-- The Bears aren't going to have their playoff odds dashed by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers next week ... right? 

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.