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Saturday, September 18

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Bears Mon Sep 23 2013

Jay Cutler -- Making $100 Million Throws

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.png3-0 is nothing to sneeze at in the NFL. Just six teams tout that record on the standings page, with a seventh (Broncos) likely to join the party later tonight. Out of those seven, the Bears are one of three that reside in what many considered to be a far more powerful NFC, and are joined by just two other teams with a winning record.

Yes, the Bears defense has been timely, forcing turnovers and scoring touchdowns at their frenetic and regression-worthy rate. But the Bears don't possess a winning record without their star performer. One could argue that they might be winless without him.

Take last night for example. After vaulting to a 24-3, the Bears started leaking on both sides of the ball. Blitzes were failing to get home on defense, and Dick LeBeau's mixture of pressure schemes were attacking the Bears young line from a number of unexpected angles. Before you knew it, the scoreboard read 27-23, and the duo of Jay Cutler and Marc Trestman had to find a way to put points on the board. And that they did.

It wasn't Cutler's first time bringing the Bears back in 2013 either. Back home in Week 1 against Cincinnati, down 21-17 and the ball at their own 19, he took the Bears 81 yards on nine plays capped by a 19-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall. He also kept the offense moving at a pace that forced Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to burn his final two timeouts, allowing the Bears to play ultra-conservative in the waning moments of the game.

Then there was last Sunday against the Vikings. Down 30-24 with 3:15 remaining, the cold-blooded Cutler marched the Bears 66 yards, topped off by an incredible throw to the outside shoulder of a leaping Martellus Bennett on third down for the 16-yard, game winning touchdown. 2-0 with a pair of fourth quarter comebacks.

Flash forward to last night. To that point, Chicago had struggled on third downs, converting a paltry 2-of-10. After a pair of stuffed Matt Forte rushes, it was Cutler's time to shine. A scramble on 3rd-and-10 resulted in a shoulder-lowering collision (that made the fan collective scream, "SLIDE!") moved the chains once. Another third down came, this time needing 12. No problem, how about a back shoulder throw that Brandon Marshall described as something, "I've never seen before."

3rd-and-5 came just three plays later again. For his second encore, Cutler made an even better throw to the back corner of the endzone for a replay inducing touchdown to Earl Bennett. 34-23 with 5:48 remaining to give the Bears a 95 percent chance of winning. Three times the Bears needed to march down the field and collect a touchdown, and Cutler delivered TD passes to his left of 16+ yards each time to clinch it.

Quarterbacks are relied upon to put points on the board when their team is back against the wall. Cutler has answered that call three weeks in a row - to the tune of a perfect passer rating in the last five throws of all the victories combined.

Just a month ago, nobody was sure how the future of the Bears franchise with Cutler at the helm would unfold after this, his final season under contract. He would almost assuredly be back next season as the franchise player to, at the very least, allow the staff to bring in a young QB to develop. But if all went right with Trestman's offense, and Phil Emery's additions to it, Cutler would become the Bears first $100 million man.

After starting 3-0 with a trio of brilliant fourth quarter performances, you can start writing out that check.

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