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Columnist
Cutler's survival best Bears result
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/31/2009 12:26 AM

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As subplots and counterplots go, this was a Shakespearean Festival on steroids.

Imagine the hysterics when Jay Cutler returns to Colorado for a real game in 2011.

Fortunately, Denver's not on the Bears' schedule this year because the soap opera surrounding an exhibition game Sunday night took on nearly historical proportions, and it had to be a positively exhausting experience.

But it was, after all, only a preseason game.

So, yes, it was idiotic two weeks ago when some suggested Cutler was just another failed Bears QB because of a sluggish performance, and just as ridiculous last week when others had Cutler canonized after a few good throws.

In this practice game he was bad early and very good late.

He threw at least 3 passes that should have been picked, and he lost his cool a couple of times, but as the first half drew to a close, Cutler torched a weak Denver defense.

He confidently marched the Bears down the field 98 yards for a TD and looked extremely comfortable both with the offense and his teammates.

Most impressive was that after missing a wide-open Devin Aromashodu for a TD on a second and short, a poised Cutler came right back and hit Devin Hester for a key first down.

Perhaps most important, after clearly shaken early by the hatred shown him from Broncos fans, Cutler was able to manage his adrenaline and settle down.

Booed unmercifully by the Denver fans who view him as a "spoiled brat'' and "crybaby,'' according to the signs they held, the words they used, and the chants they screamed, Cutler obviously felt he had a lot to prove.

But if he was trying to do too much early, he looked strong in trying to do less later.

Credit offensive coordinator Ron Turner with keeping it simple when Cutler was overcoming his nerves, and for moving Cutler in the pocket and keeping Elvis Dumervil as far away from Cutler as possible, when it was apparent Orlando Pace had no chance to block him.

The main goal was to get out of Colorado with Cutler alive and with his confidence intact, so Lovie Smith smartly pulled Cutler to begin the third quarter, when there was nothing more to be gained.

He has lost in the Colorado court of public opinion, a judgment that matters to Cutler only slightly more than, say, the weather in Tuvalu.

He threw a millionaire's fit and engineered his way out of town, and while all too common among the petulant in today's sporting world, and distasteful especially during a jobless recovery, Denver's loss is nevertheless the Bears' gain.

On the flip side for Denver is former Bear Kyle Orton, who, while missing numerous offensive starters, still managed to look like Orton, methodical and competent, a solid but unspectacular NFL quarterback.

Really, this isn't a contest between them at all. Sure, they'll be linked forever, but they couldn't be more different.

One moves his feet in the pocket like Ali, the other like Balboa. It's apples and orangutans, one carrying high risk with very high reward, the other very low risk and marginal reward.

So after all the comparisons, hype and drama, it still was just an exhibition game.

And never have the participants been so glad it was over.

brozner@dailyherald.com