And just like that, the Bears' quarterback debate is settled.
Ha, we couldn't even write that with a straight face, much less say or think it.
Jay Cutler did just enough in his latest comeback from injury this season, throwing for 265 yards and three touchdowns in the Bears' 38-31 win at Cleveland on Sunday. That's the good news, combined with the fact that at 8-6, the Bears are alone in first in the NFC North, pending Detroit's clash with Baltimore on Monday night.
This is the part where we point out that because the Lions own the tiebreaker, the Bears must finish with a better record than Detroit to win the division. The Bears visit Philadelphia next week before closing the regular season at home against Green Bay.
The bad news: Cutler threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
Yeah, that's one more than Josh McCown in seven games this season. Expect at least another week of Team Jay vs. Team Josh.
"[Cutler] had to handle a lot this week, probably more than at any time in his career," coach Marc Trestman said after the game. "His teammates had his back the whole time. You have to be mentally tough to do what he did today, very mentally tough. Not only to get through the week, but to get through a game in harsh conditions, and throwing two picks in the first half—it says a lot about the man."
Even if some Bears are secretly biting their tongues as to whom the quarterback should be, as ESPN.com reports suggest, they have to be happy with the result. Cutler said he reached out to some of his teammates this week about Trestman's decision to start him over McCown.
"I started off rusty," Cutler said. "Had some throws that were high. The guys rallied around me, they played really well, made some big-time catches, the offensive line played great. So it was good to get back out there, a really good team win.
"No one really flinched in our building, everyone kind of stuck to it. Josh was super supportive. ... [The guys] rallied behind me when we started off a little bit slow. It was fun getting back out there with them. I'm looking forward to moving on from this week."
For now, the Bears' decision to stick with Cutler appears inspired. It wasn't the only one that seemeed that way, either. Others were, well, closer to insane.
Letting Jason Campbell go after last year is working out great. The former Bears backup quarterback, now starting for Cleveland, threw a pair of ridiculously easy interceptions to Zack Bowman. One was a lollipop, the other a pick-six. Thanks, Cleveland!
Jay Cutler opted not to wear socks during warmups despite a wind chill of 14 degrees. And he thought he was safe from fashion criticism just because he didn't wear salmon pants or a wacky '80s getup pregame.
Heaving up a bomb on third down early in the fourth quarter to a double-covered Alshon Jeffery. Throws like that rarely end well for the offense when the defender can camp under the throw.
Heaving up a bomb on third down early in the fourth quarter to a double-covered Alshon Jeffery. Sometimes one of your badass receivers makes an incredible grab to tie the game—and gets a little help from a defender whose timing was bad.
Quotable: "I was like, there's [interception] No. 3. I thought it was just going to be floating 20 yards down the field. ... Alshon does what Alshon best."
—Jay Cutler, on Jeffery's touchdown catch. Cutler was on his back when the grab was being made; he was knocked to the ground as he threw.
The Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall bromance still is in full effect. Cutler threw to his favorite receiver 13 times, seven more than any other receiver on the team.
Quotable: "The ball in the end zone, that was on me. … The second one, he just threw a terrible ball, so that's on Jay. [Laughs.]"
—Brandon Marshall, on Cutler's two interceptions Sunday
Bears fans. With the game in hand in the final two minutes, chants of "Let's go Bears!" could be heard throughout the stadium. Good to see a little snow and 300-plus miles couldn't keep Chicago fans from making the trip east.
Bears fans. The temperatures were below freezing in Cleveland and the wind was nasty, so you question some shirtless die-hards' reckless disregard for frostbite. To each one's own, we suppose.
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