Monday, September 21, 2009

BEARS WIN!! (Links)

Cutler's calm helps the Bears to win
The Bears insist Jay Cutler was as in control of himself and his faculties last week as he was Sunday. Their offensive coordinator and their best tight end seem willing to take the debate to Congress until the world believes it.

So you can stand there all day and argue that the man who threw four interceptions against the Packers in Week 1 looked nothing like the man who carved up the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 2, but what's the point?

What everyone can agree on is that the Bears beat the Steelers 17-14 thanks to Cutler's precision and the imprecision of Pittsburgh's kicker. And after the Green Bay debacle, those are the only facts that matter.

Cutler got his first victory as a Bear, and he was just happy the hernia threat was over.

"It means a lot," he said. "It means a lot to this team. There's been a lot of pressure and expectations on us since I got here, since Orlando (Pace, the Bears' left tackle) got here, since the defense has stepped it up. Just glad to get this one off our back and move on. We went to Green Bay with the whole city of Chicago on us, which is fine. We love it."

Cutler leads 4th quarter comeback -
Every great quarterback needs a defining moment, a signature victory, an extraordinary event that creates instant credibility for teammates and coaches and fans and foes.

Jay Cutler needed it more than most on a rainy afternoon at Soldier Field when his first season as savior somehow looked fleeting and hopeless and bound for disappointment. A drive here, another one there, a missed field goal and then a second, and a final glorious kick, that's all it took, and somehow, some way, the Bears and Cutler turned turmoil to tranquility.

The Bears became the first team to beat the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers, winning 17-14 on Robbie Gould's 44-yard field goal with 15 seconds left as Cutler outplayed Ben Roethlisberger to deliver the victory.

''Didn't throw four picks,'' Cutler said, smiling, when asked how he turned into a completely different quarterback from the one Sept. 13 in Green Bay.

Steelers missed 2 FGs -
A week after being panned for his demeanor on the field and in the interview room, Jay Cutler delivered the ultimate silencer.

It wasn't pretty, but on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field, the gunslinger charged with taking the Bears to the next level proved he's as gritty as they have had in a long time.

There was steady pressure from the Pittsburgh Steelers, a handful of dropped passes and no running game, but Cutler hung in long enough to guide the Bears (1-1) to a 17-14 victory over the defending Super Bowl champions, winning on Robbie Gould's 44-yard field goal with 15 seconds left.

Steelers kicker Jeff Reed missed two field goals, including a 43-yarder with 3:18 to play. However it comes, the significance of a victory in Week 2 cannot be minimized -- not when only 11.5 percent of teams that have begun a season 0-2 this decade have reached the postseason. And the playoffs are what the Bears believed they were destined for when they acquired Cutler on April 2.

''Didn't throw four picks,'' Cutler said with a grin when asked about the difference a week made. ''I think they brought me here for a reason, and I want the ball at the end of every game with a chance to win it.''

Cutler completed 27 of 38 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, helping a defense that made four lineup changes -- including replacing middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who cheered from the sideline with a cast on his wrist.

School of Hard Knox -
Sure, Ron Turner can say now he never had a doubt about rookie fifth-round draft pick Johnny Knox making a quick transition from NCAA Division II Abilene Christian to NFL playmaker.

Turner can act like he knew all along Knox would emerge as the Bears' best big-play passing threat against the defending Super Bowl champions with a playoff-or-bust season already in jeopardy.

But the truth could be found in the nervous chuckle from Turner as the Bears' offensive coordinator recalled the night at training camp when Knox approached him looking like someone needing directions.

Or a hug.

"We had about 7,000 or 8,000 people at practice, and Johnny comes up and says, 'I've never seen this many people in my life,' " Turner said. "I thought, 'Hmmmm. This is only training camp.' ... But it didn't seem to faze him."

Little has fazed the speedy wide receiver so far, and Sunday at Soldier Field, the Steelers became the latest Bears opponent to get educated in the School of Hard Knox.

Early look at next week -
QUICK LOOK: If quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and his wide receivers are healthy -- and that's a big if after Hasselbeck suffered a rib injury against the 49ers on Sunday -- and firing on all cylinders, this is a dangerous team that that can play with anyone. Forget the fact that the Seahawks won only four games a year ago -- that has nothing to do with the 2009 version.

The Seahawks' stadium, Qwest Field, gives them a tremendous advantage over visitors because it is one of the loudest outdoor stadiums.

Like the Bears, the Seahawks could have some issues at the linebacker position. Leroy Hill is expected to miss the game with a groin injury. In the off-season, Seattle traded Pro Bowler Julian Peterson and replaced him with Aaron Curry, the fourth pick in the draft. The Bears will be trying to take advantage of his inexperience.

If Hasselbeck can't play, Seneca Wallace will run the Seahawks' offense.

KEY STAT: The Seahawks have beaten the Bears in seven of their 11 meetings.

KEY MATCHUP: Seahawks right end Patrick Kerney will give Bears left tackle Orlando Pace top effort on every snap. His relentlessness, combined with his athleticism and know-how, make him a playmaker.

DAN POMPEI'S EARLY PICK: Seahawks 27, Bears 26.

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