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Was that the real Jay Cutler? Let's hope so
By Gene Chamberlain | Special to the Daily Herald

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw 4 touchdown passes Sunday against the Lions and finished the season with 3,666 passing yards, second in Bears history to Erik Kramer's 3,838 yards in 1995.

 

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Published: 1/3/2010 10:00 PM

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DETROIT - At one point it seemed an impossibility, but Bears quarterback Jay Cutler finished with more touchdown passes than interceptions.

Cutler threw 4 TD passes for the second straight game Sunday in the season finale to help beat the Detroit Lions 37-23 - and this time he went without an interception.

Cutler finished the year with 27 TD passes, 26 interceptions and the Bears interpreted it as a preview of things to come.

"We've got to get that other number down. That's the bottom line," Cutler said about the interception total.

Cutler found Desmond Clark for a 1-yard, play-action TD pass with 7:20 left in the fourth quarter to put the Bears ahead for good 27-20. Then he delivered his second TD pass to wide receiver Devin Aromashodu, a 12-yarder with 2:57 to play that helped put the game out of reach.

Earlier, Cutler had hit Aromashodu for a 9-yard score and tight end Greg Olsen for a 7-yard strike.

"I think it was important that Jay finish," said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "Jay, like the rest of our team, finished strong.

"The last couple weeks you get to a point where you like to see where we could be (next year). I think we had an opportunity to see what we could be. Jay, of course, is a part of that."

Cutler finished Sunday 22 of 36 for 276 yards.

In the final two games, he went 42 of 71 for 549 yards with 1 interception and 8 TD passes for a passer rating of 115.3.

In his career, Cutler is 15-0 when he has a passer rating higher than 100 - and his rating Sunday was 122.0.

"I think more than anything it shows we can play good football," Cutler said. "Which I think, offensively, we knew that.

"It was a matter of us going out and limiting the turnovers and executing like that."

Cutler continued to strengthen his passing connection with Aromashodu for 5 completions and 46 yards.

He also hit the other Devin - Hester - with a critical 48-yard strike when the game was tied 20-20 in the fourth quarter and the Bears were backed up at their own 18-yard line on third-and-5. The play triggered an 87-yard scoring drive that culminated with Clark's TD catch.

Beaers offensive coordinator Ron Turner called the improvement a matter of everyone else in the offense making strides around Cutler, rather than Cutler doing much drastically different.

"We had a lot of young guys, a lot of new guys in the lineup, and as the season went on they got better, they continued to progress," Turner said.

Cutler finished the season with 3,666 passing yards, 172 short of Erik Kramer's single-season Bears record of 3,838 set in 1995.

Cutler set the team record for completions with 336 and passing attempts with 555. His 26 interceptions were second only to Sid Luckman's 31 in 1947.

"We all would have liked to have seen our team be the team we saw the last couple weeks," Smith said. "Sometimes it takes a little bit of time. I just like what we were able to do at the end.

"We see that the combination we have here can work."