LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- One year after leading the league in turnovers, Jay Cutler is the only NFL quarterback with at least 10 starts this season and zero multi-interception games.
For the sixth time this season, Cutler did not throw an interception in the Chicago Bears' Week 16 victory against Tampa Bay.
It’s just the third time in Cutler's 10-year NFL career he has avoided being picked off in six separate games -- 2007 (Broncos) and 2012 (Bears).
Not even Cutler can explain the unexpected turnaround.
"We’ll take a look at it at the end of the year," Cutler said. "I mean, obviously the numbers are down, so there has to be improvement. I don’t think it’s solely on me, though, with the guys around me, with [offensive coordinator] Adam [Gase] and [quarterbacks coach] Dowell [Loggains], they deserve a lot. They deserve as much credit as I do."
Of course, Cutler got lucky that a facemask penalty negated a Buccaneers interception of a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage. He even joked about it after the game.
"I came off and I was like, 'Yeah, I’m not throwing a screen until 2016. I’m done with screens,' and you got to laugh at that, then you see the flag and you don’t really know what it’s for," Cutler said. "Usually you don’t get that break, so to get that turned around -- I think we went down and scored after that -- that’s a huge break for us."
After his performance in Tampa (20-of-27 for 156 yards and one touchdown), Cutler’s quarterback rating now stands at a career-best 92.8.
Barring a total meltdown against Detroit, Cutler should end the season with his second-highest completion percentage (63.9) and third-fewest number of single-season interceptions (eight).
It should be noted, however, that Cutler's lowest single-season interception total (five) came his rookie season in Denver when he started just five games. Cutler tossed seven picks in 2011 but appeared in only 10 games because of a broken thumb.
"He’s been doing that since I got here," Bears guard Matt Slauson said. "Everything I’ve seen out of him, he’s just an absolute stud. I just think now he’s been put in positions to be successful and guys are working really hard to make sure that Jay’s in a position to be successful. And it just allows Jay to be Jay. This is who I’ve known Jay to be, always, and now the rest of you are getting to see it."