After playing relatively poorly in the preseason opener last Saturday in Buffalo against the Bills, Jay Cutler proved to be as good as advertised and officially has the Windy City counting down the days until Week 1 at Green Bay.
Playing a game with the Bears for the first time at Soldier Field, Cutler was sharp from the outset Saturday night in leading a 17-3 victory over the New York Giants.
Cutler completed 8 of 13 passes for 121 yards during his three series, leading TD drives of 80 and 92 yards and throwing for a score as Chicago built a 17-0 lead.
Cutler outplayed Eli Manning, who left after four series. Manning completed 7 of 10 passes for 62 yards. He was sacked twice, fumbled once – the Giants did recover – and was also called for intentional grounding.
Cutler has already being hailed as the Bears' best quarterback since Sid Luckman, and his arrival after a testy departure from the Broncos has been making headlines for months. The Pro Bowl quarterback was shaky in his debut when he completed only half his passes with an interception in a loss to Buffalo.
But he started quickly Saturday night. On his first-ever offensive series at Soldier Field, Cutler completed his first pass, a 27-yarder to his former Vanderbilt teammate Earl Bennett. He then hit a 10-yard pass to Devin Hester before a drop and an overthrow left him 2-of-4 on the opening series, one that ended with Robbie Gould's 44-yard field goal.
Later in the first quarter, he connected on a 15-yarder to Bennett and then a 17-yarder to Greg Olsen during a five-play, 80-yard TD drive that was capped by Forte's 32-yard TD run for a 10-0 lead.
Forte, a standout as a rookie a year ago who'd hurt a hamstring during offseason drills, sat out last week's exhibition opener against Buffalo.
The Giants were depleted defensively. Linebackers Antonio Pierce and Michael Boley were on the inactive list, as were cornerback Aaron Ross and safety Kenny Phillips. Defensive tackles Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty were also sidelined by injuries. Backup DT Jay Alford was carted off with a knee sprain early in the third quarter.
Cutler and Hester nearly connected for a big play to start the second quarter. Cutler rolled out and found Hester more than 10 yards behind the Giants' secondary, but the former kick returner couldn't catch up with the long pass that would have been an easy touchdown.
Later in the same drive, Cutler showed off his legs, scrambling 12 yards for a first down. Cutler then made a nice lead pass to to Devin Aromashodu, whose highlight-reel, fully-extended catch was good for a 38-yard gain and a first down at the Giants' 1. Cutler then faked into the line and tossed a TD pass to Desmond Clark to make it 17-0.
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Cutler Razor Sharp in 17-3 Win Over Giants
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