- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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CLEVELAND -- An honest Brandon Marshall admitted after the Chicago Bears' 38-31 win against the Cleveland Browns that quarterback Jay Cutler was “rusty” on occasion during his return game from a four-week absence caused by a high-ankle sprain.
Although Cutler finished 22-of-31 for 265 yards, three touchdown passes and a 102.2 quarterback rating, he had some notable misfires in the first half.
Cutler failed to connect with Marshall on a pair of first-half throws that resulted in turnovers. With the Bears driving on the game’s opening drive, Cutler zipped a pass to Marshall in the front of the end zone, but Browns safety T.J. Ward cut in front of Marshall and deflected the pass to fellow safety Tashaun Gipson for Cutler’s first interception. Later in the half, Cutler badly overthrew Marshall on a medium-range route near the Browns’ sideline. Marshall got his fingers on the ball, but Gipson came from the backside to pick off the pass and race 44 yards for a touchdown.
“Well, the ball in the end zone, that interception was on me,” Marshall said. “It was one of our favorite plays, a play that we are really efficient on, one of our better plays. The linebacker kind of got underneath me a little bit, made me widen, then the safety came down and I didn’t get around like we worked on all week. I put Jay in a bad bind, so that’s really on me.
"The second one, he just threw a terrible ball, so that’s on Jay. He was rusty. Coming in, we knew this was the type of game we were going to have. The guys have been on ice for weeks now. It was a good thing that we were able to get through it, get a victory, and still have hope. Hats off to him. We expected to win, we expected it to be a little rough, and we came out on top.”
Marshall, who led the Bears with six catches for 95 yards and a touchdown, said Cutler was under immense pressure to play well after Josh McCown earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
“Well, you guys have been around Jay for a while now, so he’s not going to show it,” Marshall said. “The human side of things, you have a guy in Josh McCown playing lights-out, probably playing the best football of any quarterback in the National Football League. I can only imagine the commentators and fans back home after the first and second picks, what they were saying. I’m sure they were ready to hang [Cutler]. This team has been resilient all year, faced adversity really well all year. It was nothing short of that today.”