A game of extremes at times for quarterback Jay Cutler. He finished the first half and three quarters with a passer rating of 74, largely because of two devastating interceptions, then lit up the Browns with the game and arguably the season on the line.
Cutler completed five of seven passes for 71 yards two touchdowns for a 143.4 rating for the fourth quarter, finishing at a 102.2 level for the game. Not quite up to Josh McCown’s 109.8 level, but not bad (that’s a joke).
Cutler played into the arms of doubters and critics of both him and coach Marc Trestman, effectively costing the Bears 10 points in the first 22 minutes with disastrous throws. The first ended the first drive when Cutler’s pass forced toward a covered Brandon Marshall was ill-advised, tipped by safety T.J. Ward and intercepted by safety Tashaun Gipson. The throw was forced and on a first-down snap from the Cleveland 14 with the Bears sitting on no less than a field goal.
Worse was another pass to a wide-open Marshall, this badly overthrown in the second quarter, intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Gipson.
“Both of [the passes] I felt good about the throws, going to the right place,” Cutler said. “It wasn’t like I wasn’t seeing things. It was more about just making the throw, which I know I can do. It’s just moving on to the next play and ‘let’s just keep rolling here.”
With those tosses, Cutler threw more interceptions in his first 13 passes back from the high-ankle sprain than McCown threw (one) in the 220 passes he’d thrown as Cutler’s relief or stand-in at various junctures.
Cutler’s beginnings were strong, with accurate throws in stride to Marshall and Martellus Bennett. He completed eight of his first nine passes for 104 yards, marred only by the red-zone interception. But the offense converted third downs of seven, 11, four and eight yards in the first quarter alone, all on Cutler passes.
“I thought Jay obviously made a couple of mistakes,” said Trestman. “There were times when he wasn’t sharp, but overall I thought he was very sharp.”
Moon's Grade: A-/B+