The Drive of the Game

| September 21st, 2009

I was nervous yesterday.  As nervous as I’ve been during a Bears football game in an awful long time.  While I paced ferociously around the pool table at Josie Wood’s, surrounded by twenty or so friends, Jay Cutler showed no signs of nervousness.  Knowing he was coming off the worst performance of his football-playing career, he was calm.  In front of 61,500 desperate fans, he was calm.  With receivers dropping balls on every drive, he was calm.  And yesterday was not easy.

The drive that told the story was not the one that set up the game-winning field goal.  With 11:37 left in the fourth quarter, Cutler lined up under center knowing he needed seven to even the game at fourteen all.  He knew the running game was nowhere to be found and he knew the blitz was coming.  So he began at the Bears 28.

Quick screen to Johnny Knox for seven yards.  Steve Rosenbloom thinks Knox is the Bears’ Eddie Royal.  Rosie may be right but Jackass reminds me of Wes Welker. 

Nothing from Forte.

On 3rd and 3, Cutler stepped up to avoid heavy pressure from the left side and threw a dart to Devin Hester.  He had about a seven-inch window.  He fit the ball in.  First down.         On first and ten, Cutler made the most important play of the game.  From his back foot, he served a beautiful ball in the air to Jersey Greg, over the middle.  Olsen took his second big shot of the day.  This time he held onto the ball. (Note on Olsen: Great fourth quarter after a lackluster first three.)

Cutler hits Kellen Davis and G-Reg on consecutive plays for fourteen more yards.  The Bears might not have an elite pass catcher but they have a lot of guys out there catching the ball.

First and goal at the 9.  Cutler wisely throws the ball away under pressure.  I’m not sure he doesn’t try to make something happen on the play if last Sunday night doesn’t happen.  In that regard, Cutler’s Green Bay performance may be remembered as an essential disaster.

The Double Deuce gains a deuce.

Third and goal at the 7.  Cutler takes the snap and two linebackers are coming, untouched, from the right side.  Instead of turning and looking in the other direction, Cutler stares through them and hits Jackass on a perfectly executed slant pattern.  14-14.  It is not a throw a Bears quarterback of the last twenty-five years attempts, let alone completes. 

And it punctuated a drive that announced Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears and the city of Chicago.  For the first time in my life, the Bears are capable of dropping back in the shot and throwing it every down.  They won’t do that, and they shouldn’t, but they can.  And that’s something.