CHICAGO -- Jay Cutler launched a quick throw, and almost immediately his eyes widened as the ball was deflected by Tramon Williams and floated “kind of in slow motion” right into the hands of Clay Matthews for an interception.
When Cutler let that ball fly, the Chicago Bears remained very much in the hunt Sunday, trailing just 24-17 with 7:39 left in the third quarter. Six plays later, Aaron Rodgers helped Green Bay capitalize on the turnover by hitting Jordy Nelson for an 11-yard touchdown to make the score 31-17 after the extra point.
The rout was on. Cutler’s first interception played a role in setting the final 38-17 debacle in motion.
“No [it wasn't a forced throw]," Cutler said. "It's a slant. If he jumps it, he jumps it. Most of the time in three-deep, he's not going to jump it."
The call originally was for a run, but the quarterback checked the play at the line of scrimmage after seeing Green Bay’s coverage.
The first of Cutler’s two picks came on a slant route intended for Josh Morgan with Green Bay playing three-deep zone coverage and Williams lined up over the receiver. Cutler contends that Williams didn’t line up inside of Morgan and simply jumped the route, deflecting the ball to Matthews for the interception, which the linebacker returned 40 yards.
Williams, in fact, was playing inside technique on Morgan.
“He made a good play,” Cutler said. “We had the look that we wanted for that route. He steps right into it. The ball was kind of in slow motion for 10 yards and landed right in Clay’s hands. It happens.”
With Green Bay playing a three-deep zone, Cutler didn’t expect Williams to jump Morgan’s slant route because in the film prep leading up to the contest, the Bears didn’t notice the Packers showing such a tendency. Besides that, with Williams responsible for covering a deep third of the field in a three-deep zone, it’s dangerous to sit on routes or to jump them because of the likelihood of getting beaten deep on a double move.
Cutler knew as much. So it came as a bit of a surprise that Williams “decided he was gonna make a play there, and made a play,” the quarterback said.
“He was playing tight inside,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “That’s all I can tell you is there was tight technique. I didn’t see [Morgan’s] release on the route. I was watching the protection. But obviously, he broke up the play. You don’t see that very often where the ball’s broken up and it travels 15 yards in the air right into Clay Matthews’ hands. It was obviously a very disappointing turnover for a lot of reasons. That’s what I saw happen.
"We had the right play on. We had a run called. We got the coverage we wanted, and we weren’t able to turn it into a positive play.”
Instead, it turned into points for the Packers, who capitalized on yet another Cutler pick on Chicago’s next possession because of a miscommunication with Brandon Marshall that set up their final score of the afternoon.
“The cornerback was [playing] inside leverage,” Morgan said. “I should’ve done more to try and bat it down.”