Notebook: Cutler Spreads The Ball Around In Win
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By Adam Hoge-
DETROIT (CBS) While the Bears’ offense won’t try to tell you it had a great performance Sunday at Ford Field in a 26-24 win over the Lions, there was one encouraging sign:
Receivers not named Brandon Marshall making plays.
It started in the first quarter with Alshon Jeffery catching a 55-yard pass. Later, Earl Bennett scored on a bubble-screen that went 60 yards. It was the longest pass play of the season for the Bears, while Jeffery’s catch was the third-longest pass play on the year.
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“It was huge and we went to Alshon Jeffery quite a bit, too,” head coach Lovie Smith said after the game. “We needed someone else, of course, besides just Brandon (Marshall).”
Marshall still received 14 targets, but only finished with five catches for 42 yards. Cutler completed all five targets to Bennett, while Jeffery had four catches on seven targets.
Cutler told Marshall this week that he was going to look for other receivers, noting after the game that “Brandon, he’s a little banged up.”
Instead of making big catches, Marshall instead made an impact blocking, springing Bennett on his 60-yard touchdown. Smith noted that Marshall made some key blocks in the running game as well.
But despite some encouraging signs, the offense still had a rough go overall because of an inability to finish in the red zone. The Bears only scored 16 points off the defense’s four takeaways.
“It’s disappointing,” Cutler said. “I know it’s frustrating for the defense to set us up like that and not be able to convert touchdowns. Got the job done, just wish it would have been a little bit easier.”
Big Play Jay
The Bears largely got it done because Cutler once again played well against the Lions. He finished the game 18-of-31 for 257 yards and a touchdown. He now has 12 touchdowns and just one interception in nine career games against the Lions, losing only one of those games in a Bears uniforms.
Cutler’s biggest play of the day did not come through the air, though. On 3rd & 3 with 3:28 left in the game, Cutler tucked the ball with no one open and scrambled for 19 yards. He slid in-bounds to keep the clock running, and Matt Forte sealed the win two plays later with a 13-yard run.
“I had a nice crease back side, the guys blocked it well and whatever it takes to get a first down at that point,” Cutler said.
Stopping Calvin Johnson
Once again, Charles Tillman did a nice job on Calvin Johnson. The Lions’ receiver needed just 108 yards to be the first NFL player to get to 2000 yards receiving in a single season, but he only managed 72 yards.
Melton, Raiola Settle It On The Field
After exchanging words this week off the field this week, Henry Melton and Dominic Raiola kept it quiet on the field Sunday.
“When we first walked out, we kind of had a little stare down and I said ‘Let’s go. It’s gonna be a good game,’” Melton said. “That was pretty much all that happened. It was fun.”
Melton only accounted for two tackles in the game, but he had a nice game and was in the backfield often.
The Bears only suffered one significant injury as tight end Matt Spaeth left the game with a concussion.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.