5 things to know after Bears beat Browns 38-31
Before he returned to the field, Jay Cutler had to make sure his
teammates wanted him back.
It wasn’t a given.
Chicago’s starting quarterback knew there might be some
resistance to him replacing Josh McCown, who had played so well
while Cutler was out four games with a sprained ankle. So Cutler
talked to wide receiver Brandon Marshall. He spoke with running
back Matt Forte and then met with his offensive linemen.
They all told Cutler he was their man.
And Sunday they made him believe it.
”They didn’t flinch,” Cutler said. ”They were like, `You’re
our guy. Glad to have you back.’ And they played like it.”
Cutler overcame a rusty start by throwing three touchdown passes
Sunday, rallying the Bears to a 38-31 win over the Cleveland
Browns, who dropped their fifth straight game despite scoring a
pair of defensive TDs in their home finale.
Earlier this week, Bears coach Marc Trestman stuck to his plan
to start Cutler once he was healthy even though McCown had led the
Bears (8-6) to wins the previous two weeks and was playing as well
as any quarterback in the league. Trestman’s decision didn’t get
unanimous approval and led to reports that Chicago’s locker was
split into pro-Cutler and pro-McCown camps.
But on a cold day in Cleveland, the Bears were united.
”Everyone was all-in on it and I appreciate it,” said Cutler,
who threw two interceptions in the first half. ”The guys rallied
Trestman praised his team for blocking out distractions and
taking care of business to keep its NFC playoff hopes moving
”There was a lot of noise around our team this week,” Trestman
said. ”They hung together.”
Cutler threw a 4-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter to Earl
Bennett to give the Bears a 31-24 lead, and Michael Bush’s 40-yard
TD run with 2:17 left put Chicago up by 14.
The Browns (4-10) got a late touchdown pass from Jason Campbell
to Josh Gordon to get within seven, but Cleveland, which lost a
heartbreaker last week in New England when it couldn’t recover an
onside kick in the final minute, was called for an illegal
formation trying one of its own and the Bears ran out the
A month ago, the Browns were on the edge of the playoff
Cleveland has not only fallen off, but seen a season of promise
disintegrate again. The Browns, who have blown late leads in their
last three losses, have lost at least 10 games the past six
Here are five things we learned as Chicago moved temporarily
into first place in the NFC North.
HADEN’S HIP: The Browns lost star cornerback Joe Haden with a
hip pointer in the second half.
Haden’s absence allowed Cutler to pick on Cleveland’s less
experienced defensive backs, a key in Chicago’s comeback. Haden is
having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, but he has been burned on big
plays in the past few weeks and his injury could put any possible
trip to Hawaii in jeopardy.
MARSHALL PLAN: Marshall was Cutler’s intended target on the two
Both throws were intercepted by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson,
who returned the second one 44 yards for a TD to put the Browns
Marshall took blame for the first miscue.
”The second one, he just threw a terrible ball, so that’s on
Jay,” Marshall joked as Cutler stood nearby smiling in the
GORDON GROUNDED: Gordon finally looked mortal.
After having the best four-game statistical stretch by any
receiver in NFL history, Gordon had a pedestrian performance with
three catches for 67 yards. In his previous four games, Gordon
totaled 774 yards receiving with five touchdowns, jaw-dropping
highlights and a handful of team and league records.
”There could have been more plays made,” said Gordon, who was
involved in a minor traffic accident on Saturday. ”I feel that
way, but that’s just every game, there were a few more plays we
could have made and wins we could have had. It’s just
UP FOR GRABS: Cutler’s second TD pass could have easily been his
With the Browns leading 24-17 early in the fourth, Cutler heaved
a 45-yard pass toward the end zone as he was hit by Cleveland’s
Jabaal Sheard. The ball hung in the air, got pushed around in the
blustery conditions and Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was able
to outfight Gipson and defensive back Julien Posey for the TD.
”My arm got hit, so I didn’t think it was going to get there,”
Cutler said. ”I was on the ground, and I was like, `There’s
(interception) No. 3,’ because I just thought it was going to float
20 yards down the field. Somehow it got all the way down there and
Alshon does what Alshon does best.”
DIVISION CHAMPS: While taking a one-half game lead over idle
Detroit in the NFC North, the Bears completed a four-game sweep of
the AFC North.
Chicago beat Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cleveland
The Bears visit Philadelphia next week.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org