12:08 AM CST, November 8, 2011
Jay Cutler wasn't particularly sharp as a passer against Philadelphia on Monday night.
But Jay Cutler was particularly brilliant when it came to being a quarterback. Being a leader. Being a winner.
Yeah, Cutler underthrew some deep passes. But when it came to making plays, he made some of the best you could want. Some of the best when the Bears absolutely needed them.
With the bulk of his offense, Matt Forte, fumbling twice to give the Eagles two touchdowns, Cutler had to find a way.
And on the key offensive series of the game, he did. In every way possible, it seemed, he did.
Trailing by four in the fourth quarter, the Bears got great starting position near midfield, but were quickly moved back 10 yards because of a penalty.
No matter. Next play, Cutler dropped back and saw nothing but pressure. He ran around, fell down, got up, saw more pressure, spun out and finally flipped a pass to Marion Barber that gained eight.
Next play, Cutler dropped back and fired a strike to Earl Bennett cutting across the middle for 22.
Next play, Cutler got more pressure, so he began to run, then mirrored his Vanderbilt days, making an option-like flip to Devin Hester, who gained 12 precious yards.
Two plays later, Cutler lofted a gorgeous fade to Bennett in the right corner, another Vanderbilt special. Bears, 27-24.
The numbers -- 18 of 32 for 208 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions -- will say Cutler was good.
The eyes tell you Cutler was special when only special would do.
As wonderful as Cutler's heroics were in the fourth quarter, they might not have been needed if the Bears had continued the game plan and pace on the opening drive that resulted in a touchdown. I knew it wouldn’t last with Mike Martz calling plays, but that possession sparkled because the Bears used quick snap counts and almost no pre-snap motion to minimize false starts, wear out the Eagles’ aggressive defense and limit the crowd noise.
Using Cutler on designed rollouts -- why'd it take so long for the Bears to go to what helped Cutler look so good in Denver?
And why didn’t they go back to that?
Lovie Smith emptied the magazine after the game. Well, emptied the magazine for him, anyway. He played the respect card with some bite in his voice and said the Bears should never be eight-point underdogs in a game like that. What’s more, he said Bears receivers were tired of hearing about the Eagles receivers and did something about it. This follows a week where he called out one of his players. Last season, Smith was all about addressing accountability in-house. This season, Smith suddenly is all about sticking it to doubters, critics and the rest of us outsiders. I like this Lovie. Fire on.
And say this for Smith: Henry Melton made his whereabouts known.
Forte’s numbers look great: 133 yards on 24 carries for a 5.5 average. But those two fumbles that turned into two Eagles touchdowns -- has Forte been begging to get paid before he got hurt or before he almost cost the Bears?
When the Bears converted four straight third downs to start the game, I thought they should’ve sent the ball to Canton.
On the Eagles’ first drive into the red zone, Lance Briggs tipped a Michael Vick pass that Major Wright grabbed and returned to the Bears’ 48. How did Vick not see two Bears defenders in front of DeSean Jackson?
But that’s what Smith’s defense does to Vick: turns an athlete into solely a quarterback.
Vick said he still doesn’t know what the Bears do so well against him. Tough to beat a team that way, pal.
Vick said Brian Urlacher is getting faster as he gets older. Or, you know, Vick is getting slower.
Eagles third-and-7 at the Bears’ 27, and Julius Peppers sacked Vick. Bad left knees for everyone.
As long as Smith know what Vegas thinks of the Bears, did he also know the odds of Vick, not Cutler, being the quarterback who got sacked in this game?
I hate the wildcat. At least, I hate the way the Bears run it.
The biggest play of the first half might’ve been Nnamdi Asogmugha’s dropping an interception two plays before the Bears forced a fumble in the red zone on a punt and turned it into a touchdown.
Usually this question is asked about the Bears, but which was dumber in the first half: Vick’s red zone interception or Jason Babin’s roughing-the-passer call after a failed Bears third down in the red zone?
Results of three straight Bears possessions: Eagles touchdown, punt, Bears touchdown. And that was just in the last two minutes of the first half.
Bennett couldn’t start for the Eagles and couldn’t be stopped by them, either.
Rookie punter, ball near midfield, fourth quarter, down by three, fake punt. Incomplete. Just like Andy Reid’s decision-making.
This is the kind of win that makes you believe the Bears won’t just make the postseason, but will host a playoff game.
Then again, check back next Sunday.
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