Chicago Bears: 2013 Week 3 CHI at PIT

PITTSBURGH -- Rookie right guard Kyle Long described Jay Cutler as “reptilian” and “cold blooded” Sunday night in the aftermath of the quarterback’s clutch play in leading the Chicago Bears to a 40-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In the background, rookie right tackle Jordan Mills whispered: “He’s Mr. Fourth Quarter.”

“He has that ability, when everybody’s nerves are kind of on edge and people have that heightened sense of whatever, Jay’s just cool, just flatline out there,” Long said. “In the huddle, on the sideline, in practice, Jay is a cool cat."

He just caught fire at precisely the right moments Sunday at Heinz Field.

Aided by a defense that produced five turnovers and a couple of touchdowns, Cutler slammed the door on a potential Steelers comeback early in the fourth quarter with three game-clinching plays.

Having gained some momentum on a 44-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham that cut their deficit to 27-23, the Steelers looked to shut down Cutler and make their move to avoid starting 0-3. And it appeared the Steelers would be able to do so. On the Bears' final two drives of the third quarter, Cutler hit on 3 of 6 passes for 8 yards in addition to absorbing a sack for a 6-yard loss.

Through the first two quarters, Cutler had completed 12 of 18 for 75 yards for a passer rating of 75.0 and a sack in the face of seemingly constant Pittsburgh pressure.

[+] EnlargeChicago's Jay Cutler
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesJay Cutler completed 20 of 30 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers.
“This could have been a very frustrating night,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “There were some people in his face. He had to scramble. But we knew going in that it wasn’t going to be simple. It wasn’t going to be clean on every play, and we tried to give him the quick stuff and get it out of his hands. At times, we took some [seven-step drops] and it made it tough. The pressure was coming, and it was coming from different places each and every time.”

But Cutler stepped into the thick of it and delivered when the Bears needed it most. With 9:15 remaining in the game, on third-and-10 from the Chicago 26, Cutler scrambled 13 yards and nearly ran over safety Robert Golden to gain extra yardage. Three plays later, he fired a 41-yard completion to Brandon Marshall.

“Really, it’s all Jay,” Marshall said. “Jay threw a 50-yard back-shoulder [throw]. I’ve never seen that happen before. The guy’s arm is amazing. Jay put it in the right place.”

Cutler did it again three plays later when he found Earl Bennett for a 17-yard touchdown with 5:48 remaining. The play was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but Chicago successfully challenged to get the call reversed. Bennett’s score capped a nine-play, 74-yard drive, and with the extra point Chicago had a 34-23 advantage.

The drive essentially extinguished Pittsburgh’s chances for a comeback, while notching another outing in which the Bears received strong play from Cutler with the game on the line. Prior to Sunday’s contest, Cutler had led the Bears to consecutive come-from-behind victories over Cincinnati and Minnesota.

This time -- despite the Bears building a 24-3 lead in the second quarter -- Cutler found himself trying to hold off a comeback on the road that started with Ben Roelthisberger’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown just before intermission.

Cutler admitted it was difficult to remain patient with the Steelers starting to rally. But by doing so, he finished the game having completed 67 percent of his passes, with no turnovers and a passer rating of 90.8.

“It’s not something I’m used to,” Cutler said. “We have been practicing ball security a lot. We were sitting pretty good early on and we didn’t want to give them anything easy, especially when they started getting a little momentum. We didn’t want to force the ball. We didn’t want to give them positioning in our territory. We just wanted to be patient, and we caught man [coverage] there that last play, and we were able to get a big one to Earl.”

Locker Room Buzz: Chicago Bears

September, 23, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- Observed in the locker room after the Chicago Bears40-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers:

Deference: Bears rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene clutched in both arms several sets of team travel sweatsuits and passed them out to all of the linebackers. Asked if the gesture had anything to do with him being a rookie, Greene said, "No, I was just going to get my suit and figured I’d grab all my boys', too." Green finished the day contributing mostly on special teams. The linebacking corps as a whole totaled 12 tackles, including four for lost yardage.

Game ball: Safety Major Wright ran back an interception for a touchdown and forced a fumble, in addition to contributing seven tackles, and received the game ball for his performance. Wright gripped the ball tightly as he fished a drink out of a refrigerated cooler in the middle of the locker room. “This is my first one ever,” Wright said.

Coach, QBs huddle: Quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Josh McCown huddled for several moments in front of Cutler’s locker after the game, holding what appeared to be a serious discussion. Cutler finished with a passer rating of 90.8 and threw for a touchdown. The trio seemed to be talking strategy after the game.

PITTSBURGH -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 40-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers:

What it means: The Bears sit alone atop the NFC North and start 3-0 for the just the second time since 2006.

Stock watch: Jay Cutler put on a gritty performance down the stretch. Cutler threw for just 159 yards and faced more pressure in this outing than he had in the two previous combined. Still, he completed 67 percent of his passes, took care of the ball and made clutch plays late.

Three for 3-0: The Bears captured division titles in each of the past three seasons in which they started 3-0, dating back to 1990, while also winning at least 11 regular-season contests in those seasons.

Scoring D: The Bears scored 24 points off turnovers, including a 42-yard Julius Peppers fumble return for TD and a 38-yard interception return by Major Wright. Wright’s interception return marked the second consecutive game in which the Bears recorded a pick-six.

Tim Jennings scored on an interception in Chicago’s win last week over the Minnesota Vikings.

Just last season, the Bears racked up eight interception return TDs to tie the 1998 Seahawks for second most in NFL history. This season, Chicago is already a quarter of the way there.

Williams contributes: Rookie Jonathan Bostic developed into the favorite to start at middle linebacker because of his play during training camp, but veteran D.J. Williams showed why the staff prefers him in the middle of the defense.

Williams logged two sacks of Ben Roethlisberger, including one on which he stripped the quarterback with James Anderson recovering at the Pittsburgh 17. That turnover led to a Matt Forte TD.

Explosive plays still an issue: Entering the game, the Bears had surrendered eight completions of 20 yards or more, including two of 40-plus yards. In the second quarter alone, the Bears gave up two more long balls (gains of 45 and 33 yards) to Antonio Brown, who snagged a difficult 33-yard TD with 6:27 left in the first half. Roethlisberger also hit a 32-yard completion, a 22-yarder and a 26-yarder before finding Brown for a 21-yard TD with 1:57 left in the third quarter. Roethlisberger also made a 21-yard connection and 27-yarder in the fourth quarter.

This is a problem.

What’s next: The Bears take Monday off before beginning preparations Wednesday for yet another road matchup, this time at Detroit on Sunday.