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updated: 9/16/2013 12:15 AM

Cutler, Trestman cool when it counts

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  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) celebrates the game-winning touchdown with center Roberto Garza (63) on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) celebrates the game-winning touchdown with center Roberto Garza (63) on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


There was the "3:10 to Yuma" and now there's the 3:08 to the north end zone at Soldier Field.

The cast of the 2007 movie, led by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, was outstanding. The cast of Sunday's football game, led by Jay Cutler and Marc Trestman, was just as good.

Quarterbacks and playcallers in the NFL jockey for position during the first 57 minutes or so of a game and play the final three minutes or so for job security.

Little of what comes earlier -- interceptions, touchdowns, fumbles, first downs, whatever else -- matters later when the game is in the balance and the clock is on the run.

During his first four years as the Bears' quarterback, Cutler didn't develop a reputation for pulling out victories late in the fourth quarter.

That was just another thing Cutler had to prove he could do in this, his eighth season in the NFL and first with Trestman choreographing the offense.

Could Cutler maintain his composure this year? Could he improve his mechanics? Could he make his teammates better? Could he create a play when the original wasn't there?

And could Cutler rally the Bears in the final two- or three-minute drill?

This was the opportunity against Minnesota: 3:08 on the clock, one timeout left, Bears trailing 30-24, victory 66 yards away, the field sloppy, the ball slippery.

All you need to know is that the Bears are certain to allow Cutler to play quarterback and Trestman to remain head coach for next week's sequel at Pittsburgh.

Trestman made all the right calls and Cutler all the right moves as the Bears came back to beat the Vikings 31-30.

Afterward, Cutler was referred to by tight end Martellus Bennett in cuddly terms as Cutty and by wide receiver Brandon Marshall as Mr. Fourth Quarter.

Those nicknames are rather distant from the @#$%*& and *&%$#! that the polarizing Cutler has been called by myriad Bears fans.

The Bears had a chance to beat Minnesota after the defense contributed by holding the Vikings to a field goal in the red zone.

OK, fellas, show us what you have, why this season is different, why the Cutler-Trestman combo can work.


Trestman called the plays and Cutler ultimately dispatched a 16-yard touchdown pass to Bennett with 10 seconds left in the game.

Ten plays came in from the sideline on the drive, and Cutler calmly executed them with the help of Marshall essentially playing decoy and the offensive line providing protection.

NFL games are won this way in the age of parity. The league is like the NBA now, with outcomes likely to come down to the last shot. Play around early and play for keeps late.

Cutler committed 3 turnovers that pretty much had cost the Bears the game. But then he engineered the 3:08 Amtrak to the end zone to win it back.

"He had moments of adversity in this game," Trestman said of Cutler, "and he never flinched."

It didn't hurt Cutler that this was Trestman -- not Ron Turner, Mike Martz or Mike Tice -- who designed the offense and delivered the plays to the quarterback.

Nor did it hurt that Cutler has Bennett at tight end to throw to instead of Kellen Davis, along with Marshall out wide and Matt Forte out of the backfield.

"We're test driving them out there a little bit," Cutler said. Bennett added, "We're learning as we go." And Trestman said, "We can get better."

Yes, yes, how juicy it is that the Bears can.

But that 3:08 to the end zone was one positive train ride on the right track.

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