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Article updated: 10/16/2012 10:09 PM

Bears' Cutler just fine on Monday nights

While quarterback Jay Cutler has had some bad prime-team performances as a Bear, he’s 5-1 on Monday nights. The Bears take on the Lions this Monday at Soldier Field.

While quarterback Jay Cutler has had some bad prime-team performances as a Bear, he's 5-1 on Monday nights. The Bears take on the Lions this Monday at Soldier Field.

 

STEVE LUNDY | Staff Photographer

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Just for the record, Jay Cutler has been outstanding on Monday Night Football.

It's true that Cutler has had meltdowns in other prime time games and in some "big" games as a Bear, but not on Monday nights, when he's 5-1.

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Under Lovie Smith, the Bears are 8-2 on Monday Night Football, and the quarterback has had a big hand in that success.

Cutler has had a passer rating of higher than 96.0 in five of his six Monday starts with the Bears, and his cumulative passer rating on Monday nights is 104.9 since he arrived in Chicago in 2009.

He has been intercepted just three times while throwing 13 touchdown passes and completing 63.3 percent of his passes.

He gets another opportunity to build on that impressive record Monday at Soldier Field against the Detroit Lions, the only team that has defeated Cutler on Monday night since he became a Bear.

That lone loss came in Week 5 last season, even though Cutler completed 28 of 38 passes and posted a 99.6 passer rating.

Cutler's performance against the Dallas Cowboys just over two weeks ago was his best Monday night performance ever. His 140.1 passer rating was the third highest of his career and second best as a Bear.

Before that game, the Bears' QB had been taking more lumps in the media than he did on the field during that 2010 New York Giants game when he was sacked nine times in the first half and left with a concussion.

Because Cutler suffered one of his "Bad Jay" games in Week 2 at Green Bay, he still has the lowest passer rating (78.7) in the NFC North.

The Packers' Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL at 105.4, Minnesota's Christian Ponder is ninth at 92.4 and the Lions' Matthew Stafford is 24th at 79.2, one spot ahead of Cutler.

Cutler has become a lightning rod of criticism from national media because of his cantankerous demeanor, and because of the Bears' frequent appearances on national TV.

But he does have his admirers, among them former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Phil Simms. (See what a three-game winning streak and an occasional smile on the sidelines can do for a guy's public persona.)

On the NFL Monday QB Show on CBS Sports Network, Simms was asked to choose between Cutler and Stafford, who became just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 5,000 yards in a season in 2011.

"I'm going to take Jay Cutler because the guy has a big arm," Simms said. "I like the fact that he is athletic and can move around. And he is not afraid to take chances.

"And he does not have the benefit of playing in one of those pass-heavy offenses where you can put up all of these really fancy numbers, which are not that real.

"But his (stats) are real. And let's come down to this, too, and I mean this as a compliment. He's mean. He's an angry guy. And I think angry is a big part of being a quarterback in the NFL."

If that's true, Cutler should be poised for a breakout season.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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