The worst throw of the game by Jay Cutler was his pass back across the middle, sticking a pass in the midsection of 303-pound Kyle Williams for the first interception of the defensive tackle's career.

The Bears were in field-goal range midway through the fourth quarter, compounding the mistake. But there could have been real competition for the worst throw of the game Sunday had the Bills hung on to a few more passes, such as the one cornerback Leodis McKelvin flat dropped at the 50-yard line in overtime. Cutler, under a little pressure, was backpedaling and tried to laser a pass off his back foot to Santonio Holmes, who fell.


Had McKelvin not dropped the ball, who knows where the Bills would have started in overtime instead of receiving a punt. Cutler never should have thrown for Holmes on first down on the same series because Nickell Robey had him covered closely one-on-one deep down the left sideline. Alshon Jeffery, who was out with a hamstring pull, might have been able to make a circus catch if he were running the route. But it was low percentage with Holmes and a departure from what the Bears talked about all offseason — checking the ball down when a play isn't there.

The Bears took a step backward in losing to the Bills. Here's what else we learned upon further review.

Grades are between 0 and 10 with 0 being complete failure and 10 being perfect.

Defensive line

Grade: 4

In only 21 snaps, Willie Young did a fine job as the third end. He whipped rookie right tackle Seantrel Henderson for a sack and on the next series beat left tackle Cordy Glenn to stop running back C.J. Spiller for a 5-yard loss. It's a problem when the most impressive lineman is a situational defender. Bills center Eric Wood controlled the middle of the line, helping Buffalo rack up 193 yards rushing. Bears tackle Jeremiah Ratliff was active and drew a holding penalty that was declined. End Lamarr Houston brought decent pressure from the left side. But right end Jared Allen was largely a nonfactor. Rookie tackle Will Sutton was pushed way back by guard Erik Pears on an 11-yard run by Spiller. There wasn't sufficient return on the investment up front.


Grade: 2

Lance Briggs jumped out of his gap on Anthony Dixon's 47-yard run and wound up on the ground on Fred Jackson's 38-yard gain. That pretty much sums up the day for the linebackers, who did not make enough plays. A new wrinkle was Shea McClellin twice staying on the field in nickel and rushing as a fifth lineman. He also blitzed from the base package once. Jon Bostic came up to make a nice stop on Dixon for no gain in the fourth quarter but was quiet, as was D.J. Williams.


Grade: 6

Charles Tillman lost outside contain on Spiller's 13-yard run around the corner in overtime. Tim Jennings got a little mixed up when Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin crossed, leading to a 32-yard gain for Woods. Generally there was solid coverage downfield. There wasn't a lot of action for first-round pick Kyle Fuller despite 35 snaps in the nickel package.


Grade: 5


Chris Conte was looking for a way to punch the ball loose from Jackson in overtime when Jackson stiff-armed him more than 10 yards down the sideline. Conte could have taken a better angle on the split-zone run, but he made a nice play in baiting EJ Manuel into an interception. Danny McCray, who only received 11 snaps in the rotation, had a nice stop of Jackson on a screen. Ryan Mundy did a nice job with leverage in the running game.


Grade: 4

Cutler threw for 349 yards and made some nice reads, including his the 44-yard strike to Jeffery. He executed the screen game well with Matt Forte (8 receptions, 87 yards) and was mostly sharp. But the two interceptions led to 10 Bills points, and he was off in overtime. The Bears clearly expected more when they gave him a $126.7 million contract.

Offensive line

Grade: 6

Jordan Mills got off balance and shoved aside by Mario Williams for one of two sacks, but other than that it was a strong effort for the right tackle especially after he missed all of the preseason. Fill-ins Michael Ola and Brian de la Puente did well. The Bills didn't bring a lot of pressure with only 12 blitzes. One of the staple of the rushing offense, the toss crack, continued to work well with left tackle Jermon Bushrod fluid moving to the second level. It produced 7 yards on third-and-1 in the fourth quarter before the ill-fated interception on the Cutler bootleg. Why not go to it again?

Running backs

Grade: 7

Forte produced well enough on the ground — 82 yards rushing on 17 carries — to make you wonder why he didn't get more attempts. He was on the field for 70 of the 74 snaps and with inexperienced players behind him, that workload could be common. It's a testament to his conditioning. What he didn't do well was pass block. He was late to react to free rushers off the edge and was beaten soundly by Robey on a third-and-12 in the fourth quarter when Cutler was forced to check down to Micheal Spurlock.

Wide receivers

Grade: 4

Losing Jeffery was a real blow because Holmes is clearly not up to speed in the offense. Holmes was called for offensive pass interference on the fourth-quarter interception because he was run blocking in a clear mix-up of assignments. What makes that difficult to accept is the play came after a timeout by the Bears. Spurlock dropped a pass on a deep crossing route late in the fourth quarter, the kind of play Jeffery routinely makes. Marshall's lost fumble led to a field goal. Receivers remained strong in run blocking.

Tight ends

Grade: 6

Martellus Bennett tied a career high with eight receptions and was dependable over the middle with a nice run after the catch for a 17-yard gain on third down in the second quarter. He got overmatched once by Jerry Hughes in pass protection. Matthew Mulligan and Dante Rosario each received 14 snaps. Mulligan's offensive pass-interference penalty negated a 22-yard gain by Bennett.

Special teams

Grade: 6

Since-waived Demontre Hurst was pushed back into Holmes, the punt returner, which could have led to a disaster. Rookie punter Pat O'Donnell was fine. There were not enough opportunities to judge the return game, but at least this group didn't allow the kind of big plays that plagued it during the preseason.

Twitter @BradBiggs