(The Sports Xchange) - They were already starting to think it was the “same old Jay” on Sunday at Soldier Field when he threw a fourth-quarter interception that the Oakland Raiders turned into a go-ahead field goal against Cutler’s Chicago Bears.
But, despite the after-effects of a hamstring injury that kept him out of a game last week, Cutler instead played the hero instead of the goat.
He drove the Bears 48 yards in the last two minutes, Robbie Gould kicked his third field goal of the game, a 49-yarder with two seconds remaining, and the Bears beat the Raiders, 22-20, for their first victory of the season.
Cutler deferred credit to a jury-rigged offensive line, juggled because of injuries, but the difference in the game was the patience he showed -- maybe because the hamstring forced him to -- in completing 28 of 43 passes, including 5 of 8 on the winning drive.
“There were a lot of moving parts up there, and those guys held their own,” said Cutler, who acknowledged he was limited “a little bit” physically by the hamstring and deliberately kept himself from trying to scramble out of the pocket.
“He’s a tough son of a bug,” Chicago coach John Fox said of his quarterback. “He’s got an injury that some lesser guys might not have been out there.”
Chicago started the game with a backup replacing injured left tackle Jermon Bushrod and then had to juggle further when center Will Montgomery suffered an apparent broken leg on the third play from scrimmage.
As a result, left guard Matt Slauson slid into the center spot and that may have been at least partially responsible for a fumbled snap that led to an Oakland touchdown.
But staying in the pocket may prove the best strategy for Cutler, even when his hamstring is fully healthy, because it reduces the margin for error.
Instead, it appeared it was the Raiders who made the most grievous error by settling for a field goal with 2:05 remaining to take a 20-19 lead and effect the sixth lead change of the game, rather than play aggressively for a touchdown that might have made a Chicago comeback more difficult.
After they got to the Bears’ 33-yard line with more than four minutes remaining, Oakland did not throw another pass, instead calling four consecutive running plays before Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 41-yard field goal.
“They were pretty conservative,” Cutler said.
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes