THE MORNING AFTER: Don’t cast stones at Cutler after this game
CHICAGO – Over the course of sixty minutes he proved his creativity on the field with a wide variety of receptions on Sunday afternoon.
Martellus Bennett had 11 of those catches for the Bears. Some were easy while others took some work-like his 4th-and-5 catch in the final two minutes that gave his team four more downs of life against the Raiders.
Creativity is something Bennett prides himself in off the field as well. There is his “Zoovie: A Warm and Fuzzy Tale” animated short that grabbed headlines before the season along with his entertaining statements to media during a given week.
On Wednesday he compared the Bears’ rebuilding to Chicago ‘s famous (more like infamous) traffic. Bennett said it’s bad when going through it but great when it’s done.
His comparison on Sunday topped that.
When asked if his quarterback Jay Cutler deserves more credit after wins like this, Bennett responded uniquely.
“I give him enough credit. That’s up to you all,” said Bennett. “They threw stones at Jesus and Jesus was an excellent guy who did a lot of awesome stuff and they still threw rocks at him. So how do you think they’d do us. I’m not perfect. Jesus was and he got stoned, so they throw rocks at us too.”
That’s likely the first time a comparison between Cutler and Jesus has been made. It was a spur of the moment statement from the creative tight end that many will disagree.
The one thing Bennett is right about is that the quarterback takes not just most of the blame for the Bears’ lack of consistency the last decade but nearly all of it. Some of it thrown his way is deserved-especially when his turnovers and erratic play have led to a few defeats since Cutler joined the team in 2009.
But one thing that can’t be questioned on this Monday is the quarterback’s role in getting the Bears their first win of 2015-one that seemed a pipe dream just a week ago. Yes, it was that bad with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback and a vanilla playbook.
Cutler gutted through a hamstring injury to return to the lineup at least a week earlier than most reports predicted. He got the Bears and early lead then rallied them before halftime. He made up for a bad interception with one of his finer two-minute drives of his seven-year career in Chicago.
For one week, the critics are silent and support is loud.
“Jay is a tough son of a bug. He fought an injury. Some lesser guys may not have been out there, but he was,” said head coach John Fox in his biggest public praise for the quarterback to date. “I thought all-in-all, he played outstanding, and well enough for us to win. My hats off to his toughness, battling through that game.”
People questioned that first back in the NFC Championship game back in January of 2011 when a knee injury kept him on the sidelines for the second half of a 21-14 Bears loss to the Packers. Consistent hard hits behind questionable hard hits, however, showed the tougher side of the quarterback even as his consistency waned the past few seasons.
“I don’t like the training room. I want to get in there, do as much as possible and get out as quickly as possible,” said Cutler of injuries.
“I want to be back on the field, back playing, so that’s kind of my mindset. I tell the trainers, my first day in there, I said I’m not going to be in here long.”
He wasn’t with the hamstring injury, missing just over a game-and-a-half of action since it happened in the second quarter of the Bears’ Week 2 loss to the Cardinals. Cutler’s return was needed considering the Bears gained just 146 total yards and got shutout for the first time in 13 years last week in Seattle.
Over the course of the contest Cutler made a major difference, hitting 28-of-43 passes for 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The first of which came on the opening drive, including a 35-yard pass play to Marquess Wilson which required him to move a bit to avoid the Oakland rush.
He recovered from a bad interception late in the fourth quarter with a strong drive with 2:05 to go. He got the ball in the right place to Bennett on the 4th-and-5 early in the drive then connected on four more passes to get the Bears in position for a game-winning 49-yard field goal from Robbie Gould.
It’s the 13th time that he’s led the Bears to a fourth-quarter comeback victory and his first in almost a year.
“Can’t linger on it,” said Cutler of the fourth quarter turnover and getting over it to lead the team to a win. “Can’t worry about it because we got a shot and guys are depending on me to go out there and get it done.”
On Sunday, that’s exactly what he did. Even if you don’t like Cutler, don’t cast any stones this week