Mercurial Cutler winning at an impressive rate

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Mercurial Cutler winning at an impressive rate

At some point a championship team usually needs its quarterback to win a game. Not not-lose one. Win one.

The Bears got one of those from Jay Cutler on Sunday.

The final points of the Bears 23-22 win over the Carolina Panthers were scored by the defense and special teams. But the pivotal figure for the Bears on Sunday was Cutler.

His play was a major factor in the Bears falling behind 19-7. But where he once could be counted on for the poor decision -- and worse, throw -- under the pressure of deciding moments (fourth quarter, Green Bay this season) he completed 12 of 14 passes in the fourth quarter Sunday, one for a touchdown, none to Panthers.

The Bears are 25-8 in Cutler starts since the close of the 2009 season.

Sybil Jay

He was by turns visibly miffed at booing by Soldier Field fans; calm and amusing with the game in its deciding moments; arguing with officials after failing to get calls; and then a franchise quarterback.

He was horrendous for three quarters (37.6 passer rating). He fumbled twice; he was intercepted on the first possession when he underthrew an open Brandon Marshall; he was sacked six times in the first half, assuming the persona of a training-camp tackling dummy for the Carolina pass rush. If they needed extra time to get there, Cutler waited for them.

Didnt move as well as I wanted to, Cutler said. Hed even gotten second and third opinions on that. I kept asking JB QB coach Jeremy Bates and J-Cam backup quarterback Jason Campbell if I was staying in there too long or what the deal is.

Fan favoritenot

Cutler appeared to wonder what the deal was with fans as he ran into the tunnel at halftime hearing boos. Looking up into the stands he muttered. Well, CSNChicago.com will leave his exact words to lip readers than ours.

Booing a 5-1 team playing at halftime is the prerogative of a free-speech society and Cutler said right things given time (advice?) to self-assess.

I mean, Id boo us, too, Cutler said. I told those guys it was a boo-worthy performance, if you will.

All that was periphery. What mattered was not only Cutlers play when the game was on the line, but also what he inspired in others.

Calm amid crisis

A famous anecdote was Joe Montana coming out for a final score-or-lose possession in a Super Bowl, and teammates recalling Montana arriving in the nervous, jittery huddle and marveling, Hey, thats John Candy over there in the stands!

Cutler didnt invoke fan sightings but he did react the right way for his own jittery teammates when he got ready for a final possession needing a score to avoid a loss.

Im sitting here shaking, a little bit of the cold weather, a little bit nervous and he just starts smiling like, Well, here we go, and just put me at ease right away, said Marshall, who caught four of the seven passes on the drive that set up Robbie Goulds winning field goal.

And the guys feel that vibe and they play off of it. So Jay definitely led that whole drive and made us pick up our game.

Yoan Moncada 'relieved' to get first White Sox hit out of way

Yoan Moncada 'relieved' to get first White Sox hit out of way

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yoan Moncada can’t complain much about his first hit with the White Sox.

Given all the elements, it rates about a 9 1/ 2 out of 10. Only a homer would have been better.

Baseball’s top prospect continues to look comfortable at the plate and in the field. Two days after he made his team debut, Moncada earned his first hit when he ripped a two-out, bases-loaded triple early in Friday night’s 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals. Moncada finished 1-for-4 with four RBIs.

“Once I got that first hit, I felt relieved,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “First, because it was the first one. And second because of the situation. It was a three RBIs triple. It was a very big moment of the game. I think that from now on I’m going to feel more relaxed and comfortable.”

Moncada has put together a series of good plate appearances in his first two games. He’s looked at ease while in the box and hasn’t panicked even when he gets behind in the count. Moncada said he felt even more comfortable when he stepped in to face Royals starter Ian Kennedy in the third inning. Not only was it his second time facing Kennedy, but Moncada sat in the on-deck circle as Matt Davidson drew a 10-pitch walk to load the bases with two outs.

Hitting left-handed, Moncada fell behind 0-2 in the count but Kennedy hung a 78-mph knuckle curve and the rookie lined it deep into the left-center field gap to clear the bases. Moncada not only showed his power, he also showed off his wheels: his 11.24 seconds from home to third was the fastest time by a White Sox player this season, according to MLB Statcast.

“He's seeing the ball,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He seems pretty calm, composed out there. It's just a couple of days, but in terms of how he's carrying himself, his body language, he seems to be transitioning pretty well up to this point, first couple of days.”

Moncada said Friday was much calmer than his Wednesday debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he drew a walk and went 0-for-2. The switch-hitting second baseman had an RBI groundout in his first at-bat Friday to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Then he stood in and tracked Kennedy with Davidson at the plate.

All in all, Moncada’s happy with how he’s executed his plan at the plate thus far. He said he choked up on the 0-2 pitch and put a good swing on it.

“That at-bat gave me more time to see in real life his pitches,” Moncada said. “I’ve been feeling very comfortable. In Chicago, that first game, it was a little bit nervous. But overall I feel very comfortable hitting and with my defense.”

Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez rings NASDAQ closing bell

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Chicago Fire

Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez rings NASDAQ closing bell

As part of the hype for the MLS All-Star Game, Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez and a handful of Major League Soccer cohorts made a trip to New York on Friday.

Rodriguez rang NASDAQ's closing bell. The MLS All-Star Game will take place at Soldier Field on Aug. 2.

Check out the photos from the occasion.