Cutler returns and plays hero as Bears edge Raiders late
As soon as Jay Cutler threw an interception, it looked like the Bears were about to follow the familiar script.
Then he and Robbie Gould rewrote the ending to give Chicago its first win under John Fox.
Cutler threw for two touchdowns and redeemed himself following that interception by helping set up a 49-yard field goal by Gould in the closing seconds Sunday, leading the Bears to a 22-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
"It’s a big win," Cutler said. "Guys are excited. Coaching staff’s excited. We’ve got a good group in there."
The Raiders (2-2) grabbed the lead on a field goal by Sebastian Janikowski with just over two minutes remaining set up by an interception by Charles Woodson. He picked off a pass thrown behind Martellus Bennett deep in Oakland territory.
But Cutler led Chicago (1-3) from its 20 to the Oakland 32 before Gould nailed the winner in the closing seconds.
"I was really happy to see smiles in there," Fox said. "I’m really happy for our fans because we haven’t exactly lit it up here at home in the first two opportunities."
The Bears shook off two embarrassing losses, including their first shutout since 2002 last week at Seattle, to give Fox his first victory since he was hired in the offseason. The win came at the expense of Oakland coach Jack Del Rio, his defensive coordinator in Carolina and Denver. And it capped a busy week that saw Chicago trade Jared Allen to Carolina.
Derek Carr threw for 196 yards as Oakland lost after winning two in a row.
"This was just one of those old-fashion NFL fights," Carr said. "Down to the wire. There was no lack of focus, or lack of effort. Nothing that would alarm you."
In the end, there was Chicago standing tall, finally squeezing out a victory in a season that has been nothing short of dismal.
Big things were hardly expected of the Bears after a brutal five-win season that cost former coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery their jobs. They brought in Fox and GM Ryan Pace to turn things around, and this was at least a step.
Cutler completed 28 of 43 passes for 281 yards after missing a game because of a strained hamstring. Matt Forte had 91 yards rushing and 64 receiving. Martellus Bennett caught 11 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Marquess Wilson added 80 yards receiving. Eddie Royal caught a touchdown on the game’s opening possession.
"Those are the type of wins that you want to see," Gould said. "And usually those type of wins catapult a team and give them a lot of confidence for the next week."
For Oakland, Carr completed 20 of 33 passes with two touchdowns and an interception.
Amari Cooper, tops among NFL rookies in catches and yards receiving, had just four receptions for 49 yards. Latavius Murray, coming off a career-high 139-yard performance at Cleveland last week, ran for 49 yards. He had a hand in two turnovers, fumbling a pitch and juggling a pass into Pernell McPhee’s arms for an interception. And he got benched toward the end of the game.
Cutler completed 14 of 19 passes for 170 yards and two TDs in the first half, and McPhee set up Gould’s late field goal that made it 16-14 with his first career interception.
Even though he felt better during the week, Cutler wasn’t sure he would be ready to play until he warmed up. He said the hamstring limited his mobility, but he still looked sharp, particularly in the early going. And he delivered in the end.
"It’s hard to play an instinctual game and then move and have to realize we can’t exactly do that," he said. "On the last drive there I was moving to the right and wasn’t going to go very far so I decided to get down. I tried to save a little time and keep moving. It was a little back and forth throughout the game. I just tried to manage it."
NOTES: Janikowski matched Hall of Famer Tim Brown’s club record by playing in his 240th game. … The Bears lost C Will Montgomery to a broken leg on the opening possession. Matt Slauson then moved from left guard to center. … S Antrel Rolle injured his right ankle making a tackle early in the third quarter when a teammate hit him and left the game.