This time, Jay Cutler wasn't waiting for help from above.
With 12:38 left in the second quarter, Cutler took matters into his own hands.
The previous two Bears possessions had resulted in a pick-6, 2 incompletions and a three-and-out.
They were on the verge of going down 21-10 with the Jets having scored 3 TDs in a span of only 9:12.
Cutler had seen something on the last couple throws that he knew was gold and so he gathered Johnny Knox and Devin Hester on the sideline and huddled privately with his receivers.
“They were playing nothing but man (coverage),” Knox said. “Jay said we were going to hurt them deep.”
Cutler has never been more right.
Over the next 14:48, from the middle of the second to the middle of the third, Cutler threw for 184 yards on 10-of-14 passing with 3 TDs — while running for another when he improvised upon seeing the coverage — leading the Bears to a 38-34 victory over the Jets at Soldier Field on Sunday.
“They were playing press man and we knew we were going to have to take a few shots and go vertical on them,” Cutler said. “We knew our speed would be hard for them.”
But the Jets supposedly have some of the best defensive backs in football, and the Bears' receivers are, well, the Bears' receivers.
“Each week we go out there and try to represent the receiving corps,” Knox said. “We know what people say about us. That's fine. Disrespect us and we'll make people pay.”
So when the receivers have a good game, they're aware the group is criticized, but when they fail to show up or look confused, they claim they don't listen to what outsiders are saying.
This, however, was a very good day, so the receivers were in full motivation mode.
“We like it when people say bad things about us,” Hester said. “We use that to our advantage.”
Cutler used his receivers, specifically Knox and Hester, over that nearly 15-minute span when the Bears outscored the Jets 28-10, turning an 11-point deficit into a 38-31 lead.
“When the (defensive backs) are face-guarding like that, I'm going to put it on and let the receivers make a play,” Cutler said of the deep routes. “It's really hard to stop.”
In that one quarter of good offensive football, Cutler hit Matt Forte twice for 24 yards each, Knox for TD throws of 40 and 26 yards, and Hester for a 25-yard TD.
Most of the throws weren't perfect, but they didn't have to be. The Jets were turned around and out of position so often that Cutler was just putting it in the vicinity and letting his receivers make plays on the ball.
“We're getting more used to things,” Cutler said. “You can't come out here Week 1 and expect to be firing on all cylinders.”
Actually, Cutler, Mike Martz and Lovie Smith insisted that in Week 1 the Bears' offense would be firing on all cylinders, and more often than not the offense couldn't start the engine at all.
But Cutler, slowly but surely, has taken ownership of the game and of the receivers, and instead of waiting for Martz to figure it out, or waiting for permission to make a call, Cutler is seeing and his receivers are believing.
Knox is averaging nearly 19 yards per catch, and with 51 grabs and 960 yards, he's got an excellent chance to go over 1,000 next week in Green Bay.
“There's been some ups and downs with us trying to get on the same page. No doubt about that,” Knox said of his relationship with Cutler. “But every week the adjustments are better and the communication is improving.”
So is the production on the field, which is a good thing considering the defense has given up 70 points in the last two home games to AFC East squads.
“It was a defensive struggle,” Lance Briggs deadpanned. “Both defenses struggled.”
No matter on this Sunday for the Bears, as the offense carried the play and captured the victory.
As with so much else that has occurred this season in the NFL, and especially with the Bears, who would have guessed it?Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.