PITTSBURGH -- Rookie right guard Kyle Long described Jay Cutler as “reptilian” and “cold blooded” Sunday night in the aftermath of the quarterback’s clutch play in leading the Chicago Bears to a 40-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In the background, rookie right tackle Jordan Mills whispered: “He’s Mr. Fourth Quarter.”
“He has that ability, when everybody’s nerves are kind of on edge and people have that heightened sense of whatever, Jay’s just cool, just flatline out there,” Long said. “In the huddle, on the sideline, in practice, Jay is a cool cat."
He just caught fire at precisely the right moments Sunday at Heinz Field.
Aided by a defense that produced five turnovers and a couple of touchdowns, Cutler slammed the door on a potential Steelers comeback early in the fourth quarter with three game-clinching plays.
Having gained some momentum on a 44-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham that cut their deficit to 27-23, the Steelers looked to shut down Cutler and make their move to avoid starting 0-3. And it appeared the Steelers would be able to do so. On the Bears' final two drives of the third quarter, Cutler hit on 3 of 6 passes for 8 yards in addition to absorbing a sack for a 6-yard loss.
Through the first two quarters, Cutler had completed 12 of 18 for 75 yards for a passer rating of 75.0 and a sack in the face of seemingly constant Pittsburgh pressure.
“This could have been a very frustrating night,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “There were some people in his face. He had to scramble. But we knew going in that it wasn’t going to be simple. It wasn’t going to be clean on every play, and we tried to give him the quick stuff and get it out of his hands. At times, we took some [seven-step drops] and it made it tough. The pressure was coming, and it was coming from different places each and every time.”
But Cutler stepped into the thick of it and delivered when the Bears needed it most. With 9:15 remaining in the game, on third-and-10 from the Chicago 26, Cutler scrambled 13 yards and nearly ran over safety Robert Golden to gain extra yardage. Three plays later, he fired a 41-yard completion to Brandon Marshall.
“Really, it’s all Jay,” Marshall said. “Jay threw a 50-yard back-shoulder [throw]. I’ve never seen that happen before. The guy’s arm is amazing. Jay put it in the right place.”
Cutler did it again three plays later when he found Earl Bennett for a 17-yard touchdown with 5:48 remaining. The play was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but Chicago successfully challenged to get the call reversed. Bennett’s score capped a nine-play, 74-yard drive, and with the extra point Chicago had a 34-23 advantage.
The drive essentially extinguished Pittsburgh’s chances for a comeback, while notching another outing in which the Bears received strong play from Cutler with the game on the line. Prior to Sunday’s contest, Cutler had led the Bears to consecutive come-from-behind victories over Cincinnati and Minnesota.
This time -- despite the Bears building a 24-3 lead in the second quarter -- Cutler found himself trying to hold off a comeback on the road that started with Ben Roelthisberger’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown just before intermission.
Cutler admitted it was difficult to remain patient with the Steelers starting to rally. But by doing so, he finished the game having completed 67 percent of his passes, with no turnovers and a passer rating of 90.8.
“It’s not something I’m used to,” Cutler said. “We have been practicing ball security a lot. We were sitting pretty good early on and we didn’t want to give them anything easy, especially when they started getting a little momentum. We didn’t want to force the ball. We didn’t want to give them positioning in our territory. We just wanted to be patient, and we caught man [coverage] there that last play, and we were able to get a big one to Earl.”