Sunday, November 20, 2011
Cutler stays calm; Rivers still has issues
Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers are two quarterbacks headed in completely different directions, and the results are reflected in the recent performances of their teams.
The Chicago Bears have a five-game winning streak for the second straight season. The San Diego Chargers have lost five straight for the first time since a nine-game losing streak spanning 2002 and 2003.
Cutler avoided a sack for just the second time in his last 30 games, even though there were multiple situations in which he faced significant trouble.
Cutler did complete six of his eight pass attempts while under duress (a term used by our video review crew describing a quarterback who was either forced from the pocket, altered his throwing motion due to pressure, or there was a defender who had a clear path in his line of sight), including a third-quarter touchdown to Johnny Knox that gave the Bears the lead for good.
Entering Week 11, Cutler had attempted 81 passes while under duress, the most in the NFL, but hadn't had anywhere near the success he had on Sunday.
On the other hand, Rivers struggled, even when not pressured. He now has 21 turnovers, matching his career high for an entire season, set in 2007. He had major issues in the fourth quarter, throwing interceptions on two of his four pass attempts when the Bears sent four-or-fewer pass rushers, after completing 17-of-22 passes in such situations in the first three quarters.
Following the game, sources reported that Cutler suffered a broken thumb that may cost him the rest of the regular season.
A good day for record-setting tight ends
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis set the team record for most touchdowns caught at that position (34) as his team improved to 9-1 with its win. Davis previously shared the mark with Brent Jones.
One of the differences in the game was that the 49ers' secondary limited Arizona quarterbacks to 2-for-13 (15.4 percent) passing, and intercepted two throws traveling at least 11 yards from the line of scrimmage.
San Francisco had not held an opposing team to two or fewer completions in a single game on throws of that distance since Week 11 last season.
The other record of note from the late-afternoon games was that Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez joined Jerry Rice as the only two players in NFL history with 14 seasons of 50 receptions or more.
Gonzalez had five catches in the Falcons win, and had his third straight game with a touchdown catch.
Gonzalez did that in a game in which Matt Ryan threw for more than 300 yards, the fourth time this season he’s done that, matching Jeff George for the most 300-yard games by a Falcon in a single season.
Ryan completed 9-of-10 passes for 178 yards against five or more pass rushers Sunday. Ryan's 17.8 yards per attempt against added pressure is his highest mark in a single game since Week 10 of the 2008 season against the New Orland Saints.
Teammate Roddy White had his 25th career game with 100 yards receiving, the most such games in Falcons history.