- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jay Cutler threw an interception, and completed just 50 percent of his passes for a passer rating of 45.8 Sunday as Chicago's offense sputtered to a 3-3 halftime tie with the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field.
Through the rough start, though, he never worried.
"The thing is, on the sidelines there's no panic for us offensively," Cutler said. "If we're (in a game where the score is) 3-3, if we're 7-10, if we're close (and) we're in it, the defense is going to give us more opportunities. So we just have to keep grinding away, keep talking football (and) figure out what plays we like, what plays we don't like because that defense is going to create turnovers. They're going to get three-and-outs. We're going to get more opportunities."
The defense provided one in the third quarter when Lance Briggs sacked Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert for a 6-yard loss to force a three and out that the Bears turned into a 10-yard touchdown from Cutler to Alshon Jeffery on the first play of the final period.
Prior to that, though, the offense did most of the work on its own. Highlighted by an 18-yard completion to Brandon Marshall, and another 12-yard connection with the receiver to convert a fourth-and-1 at the Jacksonville 45, the Bears opened the second half with a 17-play drive spanning 76 yards that took 9 minutes and 18 seconds off the clock.
In the third quarter alone, the Bears' offense took part in 25 snaps compared to just four plays for Jacksonville's offense.
Then in the fourth period, Cutler launched his second TD pass, a 24-yarder to Marshall that gave the Bears a 27-3 lead with 8:37 left to play. Cutler finished the game 23 of 39 for 292 yards and a passer rating of 88.8.
"I thought he played well like he's been playing," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Jay's put two good weeks together back to back like our offense has. Jay's as good as anyone out there, simple as that."
In addition, the quarterback suffered only one sack all day.
"The first half, we had some opportunities, just didn't make the plays," Cutler said. "They didn't do anything we didn't really expect. They were right in places we thought they were gonna be. We just weren't making the plays we needed to make. In the second half, we made those plays."
Cutler credits the defense for providing the offense opportunities to make plays by forcing three-and-outs and nabbing turnovers. Because of that unit, which held Jacksonville to 189 net yards, Cutler knows it's always only a matter of time before the defense gets back the ball for the offense.
"The first half, there was no panic on our side," Cutler said. "When we have a great defense helping us out, it's just a matter of going out and executing the plays, then making the plays we need to make. We put up a lot of points today and our offensive line played great for me all day. The defense put up some points again. We're never really out of it with those guys."