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updated: 10/29/2012 12:00 AM

Cutler key to Bears' big turnaround

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  • Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is sacked by Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) during Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago.

      Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is sacked by Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) during Sunday's game at Soldier Field in Chicago.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Jay Cutler, after getting sacked six times in the first half Sunday, was able to help the offense make the necessary adjustments in time to escape with a victory.

      Jay Cutler, after getting sacked six times in the first half Sunday, was able to help the offense make the necessary adjustments in time to escape with a victory.

  • Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler gets sacked during the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field.

      Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler gets sacked during the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Bears had a feeble 59 yards of total offense with less than a minute left in the third quarter and were trailing 19-7.

But they picked up 151 yards the rest of the way to finish with 210 yards and a 23-22 victory.

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Why the improvement?

For openers, the Bears didn't give the Carolina Panthers an opportunity to add to the 6 sacks they got in the first half. Jay Cutler wasn't sacked at all after halftime.

"I got rid of the ball," said Cutler, who held the ball too long on at least 2 of the sacks. "I didn't move as well as I wanted to. I kept asking J.B. (quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates) and J-Cam (backup quarterback Jason Campbell) if I was staying in there too long or what the deal is."

Quicker throws to Brandon Marshall (9 catches, 98 yards) and Earl Bennett helped. Bennett was the invisible man for the first 44 minutes, but he finished with 3 catches for 47 yards, his most productive day since the season opener.

"We started getting some timing patterns," Cutler said. "We weren't even going to mess with the O-line. I wanted to get rid of it before they even got back to me."

Marshall had a succinct answer for why the Bears were able to move 55 yards for the game-winning field goal in the final 2:20 after struggling earlier.

"Cutler," he said. "That's when you want that type of quarterback. After their field goal brought the score to 22-20 (in favor of the Panthers), he gets up smiling."

Marshall wasn't as calm.

"I'm sitting there shaking," he said. "A little bit of the cold weather, a little bit nervous, and he just starts smiling like, 'Well, here we go.' He just put me at ease, and the guys feel that vibe and they play off it.

"Jay definitely led that drive and made us pick up our game."

Cutler completed 6 of 7 passes for 52 yards on the final drive, leaving Soldier Field fans cheering madly after they booed the offense off the field at the end of the first half. Cutler said he understood the boos.

"B. (Brandon Marshall) told me, 'They're booing us out there,'" Cutler said. "I mean, I'd boo us, too. I told those guys it was a boo-worthy performance.

"It was pathetic offensively what we put out there. It wasn't up to standard, product-wise.

"We have to get better. We know that, and our fans know that. Luckily enough we got out of there with a win, but the first half is nothing to be proud of."

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