Jay Cutler returned to the Chicago Bears lineup as the starting quarterback on Sunday when the team faced the Cleveland Browns.
A Sunday that began with every pre-game show no matter the channel debating whether or not Cutler should be starting for the Bears. In fact, one alleged analyst picked against the Bears in protest because of their decision to start Cutler over Josh McCown. Beyond that, two reports seemed to float the idea out there that there was friction among the Bears over who should be the starting quarterback.
But when all the pre-game banter ended, it was Cutler taking the field with the Bears offense to begin the game.
What was the initial response from Cutler? An interception on a pass that was intended for wide receiver Brandon Marshall in the end-zone.
McCown supporters were quickly gathering and spewing fire in the direction of Cutler and Bears head coach Marc Trestman. The fire was soon put out as Cutler managed to get into rhythm and find success with the Bears offense. That rhythm was quickly halted when Cutler threw his second interception in the game in the second quarter.
At that point, every McCown supporter was puffing out their chests with the appearance of Cutler failing in his return to the Bears lineup.
But then, something happened. Something that Cutler was praised for earlier in the season when he was healthy. Cutler played above his mistakes.
Cutler led a touchdown drive for the Bears offense late in the second quarter that the tied the game at 10. McCown supporters quietly went back to their corners and waited for another Cutler mistake.
That mistake never happened.
After Cutler and the Bears offense barely saw the field in the third quarter, the team was facing a 7-point deficit when they entered the fourth quarter.
Cutler and the Bears offense scored 21-unanswered points in the fourth quarter to ultimately lead the Bears to a 38-31 victory over the Browns. Like he did earlier in the season when healthy, Cutler lived up to his “Mr. Fourth Quarter” billing.
If anything, Sunday’s game showed why Cutler is the unquestioned starting quarterback of the Bears. Cutler succeeded under pressure. The pressure Cutler faced in the second half of the game versus the Browns was greater than the pressure facing Cutler when the game began. Cutler responded in the second half with the type of performance that shows why he is the franchise quarterback that the Bears are looking for.
Cutler finished the day with a passer rating of 102.2 to go along with 265 passing yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
In a day that began with obscurity, it ended with Cutler standing above his doubters and critics as well as the adversity that faced him early in the game.