For the second week in a row the inescapable conclusion is that the Chicago Bears would not have won this game a year ago, not with the quarterback they had then.
Because even his teammates are seeing something in Jay Cutler they hadn’t always seen in the past. The Bears were 6-23 when tied or trailing after three quarters in four years under Cutler for a reason.
But after leading a fourth-quarter comeback against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cutler shook off turnovers and others’ mistakes (a football taken away from Matt Forte, a holding penalty on left tackle Jermon Bushrod, plus Cutler’s own second interception), Cutler completed eight of 12 passes for 83 yards in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ 31-30 win Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings.
Cutler provided the capstone with a second touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett, 16 yards with 10 seconds remaining. That pass doesn’t happen a year ago, obviously because Bennett was a New York Giant this time a year ago, but also because Cutler’s composure getting the Bears into a position to win was suspect.
But more than one member of the offense told CSNChicago.com that in the huddle after a third Minnesota field goal put the Vikings up 30-24 with 3:08 to play, it was Cutler who again was the voice of calm and clarity.
“He’s so cool,” said rookie guard Kyle Long. “I wish I was as cool as Jay Cutler. I was all fired up and Jay was just like his heart was going two beats a minute, like nothing was going on.”
Something was indeed going on.
“It’s what we needed,” said Bushrod, no stranger to fourth-quarter achievements from his years in New Orleans with Drew Brees. “We were all fired up (he looked at Kyle Long, shook his head and laughed), and Jay just led us down the field.”
The prevailing sentiment is that what has changed Cutler is simply more confidence in what he’s hearing not only through his headset on game days, but all week from coach Marc Trestman, coordinator Aaron Kromer and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.
“I think he just trusts these guys, and they trust him,” said one member of the offense. “That wasn’t always the case.”