Josh McCown has kept Bears in playoff race
Quarterback Josh McCown has given the Chicago Bears a fighting
It might be up to Jay Cutler to finish the job.
Despite a porous run defense, the Bears (7-6) are back in the
NFC North chase, tied for first with the Detroit Lions after
dominating the Dallas Cowboys in the second half at frozen Soldier
Field 45-28 on Monday night.
McCown finished with a third straight 300-yard passing effort –
the first time it’s been done in franchise history – yet his future
could be returning to the bench or he could start again Sunday at
Cleveland against the Browns.
It all depends on Cutler’s sprained ankle, and the Bears won’t
know more about that situation until possibly Thursday. They were
off Tuesday and do not practice Wednesday.
”For me, it is week to week and obviously I’m in practice and I
see (Cutler’s) progress and monitor that and, you know, I
understand every week if my number is called I have to be ready to
go,” McCown said.
”So that’s how it has been and we’re ready for him to get back
as quickly as possible; hopefully he is healing up and that will
With his 27-of-36 effort for 348 yards and four touchdowns
Monday, McCown moved to third in the NFL in passer rating at 109.8.
He trails only Peyton Manning (114.5) and Nick Foles (120).
McCown has 13 touchdown passes, the same as Cutler. McCown has
thrown one interception and Cutler eight.
Coach Marc Trestman left no room for uncertainty after Monday’s
game when announcing Cutler is still the starter.
”There’s no change in the plan,” he said.
Nor would Trestman say he can afford to be cautious and keep
Cutler out longer now because of McCown’s hot streak.
”It has nothing to do with cautiousness,” he said. ”We’re
taking this very methodically. The doctors understand that. When
he’s (Cutler) good to go and can have a full week of practice,
he’ll be our quarterback.”
McCown led the team in every way he could Monday night. He
scored a TD by leaping into the end zone and getting knocked into a
mid-air spin by Dallas linebacker Sean Lee.
”A run like that by your quarterback, him jumping into the end
zone and getting flipped around a little bit, him getting up with a
smile on his face? It just gets us going, man,” tackle Jermon
Bushrod said. ”If he can go lay it out there like that, then we
have to lay it out there like that.”
The Bears’ offense hit full efficiency against Dallas, scoring
on its first eight possessions. They never punted, the ninth
possession consisting of a one-play kneel-down by McCown to end the
The five touchdowns came in contrast to the previous losses to
Minnesota and St. Louis when the Bears struggled in the red
Accounting for five TDs is not the kind of production most teams
can expect when they rely on a 34-year-old journeyman backup
McCown admits Trestman’s offense might simply be the right
situation for him to flourish.
”You always wonder how it would be if you operate in the right
kind of offense with the right kind of players and so on and so
forth,” he said. ”With me, it’s just about being in the right
situation now with these guys, with this offense and with these
coaches, and allowing me to play within the system with the guys
that are around me.”
McCown’s passing has helped the Bears to a 7-6 record and he is
3-2 in his five starts this season.
Although the Bears are tied with the Lions, they trail in the
NFC North race based on losing twice to Detroit. Lurking half a
game back are the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears have road games with Cleveland and Philadelphia and
finish at home with the Packers. The Lions host Baltimore on Monday
night, host the Giants and finish at Minnesota.
The Packers are at Dallas on Sunday, host Pittsburgh and then
have the finale at Chicago.
”I think we have a pretty good chance,” wide receiver Earl
Bennett said. ”The only thing we can control is to go out each and
every game and win.”
NOTES: The Bears-Eagles Dec. 22 game has been flexed from
afternoon to a Sunday night on NBC. … Running back Matt Forte’s
102-yard rushing effort Monday gave him 1,073 yards rushing on the
year, and his 73 yards receiving brought his total to 518. It’s the
second time in his career he went over 1,000 yards rushing and 500
yards receiving in a season, making him the only Bears running back
to do it. His seven catches Monday gave him 65, breaking the
franchise’s running back record of 62 for a single season that he
set in 2008.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org