The latest Bears' loss -- by a 24-20 score -- was defined not by interceptions but by incompletions.
And with the way the Bears' season has gone, this is progress.
In a tight game, the lost opportunities were the difference. Cutler completed 56 percent of his passes for an average per attempt of 4 yards in front of a testy crowd at Soldier Field.
Three of his misses could have been touchdowns -- back-to-back throws from the Eagles' 27 to Greg Olsen and Devin Hester at the start of the second quarter -- and a third-and-5 throw to Johnny Knox on the Bears' second-to-last possession.
"I missed some throws early," Cutler said. "I missed Greg and then Devin on the slant and go. We can't have that. We only get down in the red zone a few times. We have to hit them."
The throw to Knox could have, should have been a 70-yard game-winner. On the play from the Eagles' 30 with just less than four minutes remaining, he had gotten by cornerback Sheldon Brown and was streaking down the sideline with nary a safety in sight.
"They brought the house and Jay didn't have time to set his feet," Knox said. "It was a good throw, it just got caught in the wind."
The Bears got the ball back one more time with 1:51 remaining and no timeouts. Five plays later, they faced a second-and-10 from the Bears' 37. Cutler threw for a well-covered Olsen. The ball was tipped by linebacker Tracy White and intercepted by safety Sean Jones.
It was Cutler's only interception of the night.
"No timeouts, we were trying to make a play," Cutler said. "The throw gets batted up, you never know there."
Cutler wasn't the only culprit in this one. The Bears held a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter after Cutler hit Kellen Davis on a 15-yard score for the Bears' only touchdown.
But the Bears gave up an 11-play, 62-yard drive after a Robbie Gould field-goal attempt was blocked. The drive ended with a 10-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy that was the difference in the game.
"We had a lot of chances to get off the field and we didn't do it," Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said.
"You get down there you have to hold them to a field goal and give our offense a situation where we could win it in overtime."
The defense performed poorly early, allowing the Eagles to convert a third-and-1 with a 34-yard run by Michael Vick. The play set up a field goal that gave Philly a 3-0 lead.
Twenty penalty yards by the defense helped set up their next score, this one a 13-yard screen pass from Donovan McNabb to Jason Avant. The Eagles somehow got four offensive linemen out in front of Avant on the play.
The Bears continued their mistake-prone ways with seven penalties for 64 yards.
The play of the first half for the Bears' offense was a 72-yard run by Kahlil Bell. The rookie running back was taking his first NFL handoff. He got a little lucky, as the Bears caught the Eagles in an all-out blitz. But Bell, who was brought up from the practice squad Friday, knew what to do with the daylight.
He brought it all the way to the Eagles' 10, but the Bears still couldn't get a touchdown out of the deal. They had a 1-yard completion, a Matt Forte run for minus-1 yard, and an incompletion before they settled for a 28-yard Gould field goal.
"If I had a little more speed, I might have been able to shake off that last guy," Bell said.
Cutler was lucky his incompletion wasn't an interception. It was yet another red-zone force, this one into double coverage to Olsen over the middle. Eagles corner Macho Harris got his hands on the ball.
The next time in the red zone, Cutler was smarter. He backpedaled away from pressure and threw the ball to a spot in the back of the end zone where no one could have caught it. Gould's third field goal, a 28-yarder, pulled the Bears to within 10-9 with 13 seconds left in the first half.
The points were set up by a takeaway by Charles Tillman. He stripped DeSean Jackson of the ball and Anthony Adams recovered on the Bears' 33. It was the Bears' second takeaway of the game, as Zack Bowman also came up with an interception on the previous Philadelphia possession.
Tillman came up with another forced fumble in the fourth quarter, poking the ball out of the arms of McCoy. Al Afalava recovered, setting up the 48-yard Gould field-goal attempt that was blocked.
Consider it another opportunity lost.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun