Blaine Gabbert shows composure in Cardinals' last-minute drive

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was no talk of a quarterback controversy this time.

Unlike the Arizona Cardinals' first two preseason games, both of which preceded a week's worth of talk about who should be Carson Palmer's backup, the topic didn't come up following Saturday's 24-23 loss to the Chicago Bears.

However, third-string quarterback Blaine Gabbert showed an important trait for any quarterback, whether he comes off the bench or not.

He was calm and effective under pressure.

After the Cardinals recovered a pooched onside kick with 1:18 left in the game and his team down 24-17, Gabbert led a drive from the Chicago 35-yard line down to the 3 in 1:04 before hitting Jeremy Ross with a laser of a throw for a touchdown.

Instead of kicking the extra point to tie the score at 24 and possibly head to overtime, the Cardinals went for two, giving Gabbert another opportunity to show whether he could come through in the clutch. He almost did. Gabbert dropped back against the Bears' Cover Zero and threw again to Ross, but the ball fell to the ground just as Ross was turning his head around to look for it.

"Hindsight being 20-20, I've just got to drift, take the shot and find a way to deliver the ball," Gabbert said. "It just didn't happen. We put ourselves in the right position but it leaves a sour taste in your mouth when it was there."

Although Gabbert didn't lead Arizona to the win, he showed coach Bruce Arians he could carry a team down the field.

"I'd like to see him make that winning throw right there," Arians said. "It's a hell of a job making that winning drive."

Fortunately for the Cardinals, the game doesn't count. But the final two possessions crammed into the last two minutes -- going back to Phil Dawson kicking a 52-yard field goal to cut the Bears' lead down from 10 to seven with 1:25 left -- gave the Cardinals "really good end-of-game teaching stuff," Arians said.

Gabbert threw for 174 yards on 14-of-25 passing with a touchdown and an interception that Arians said wasn't his fault. He also showed off his athleticism with two scrambles for six yards, including one for a touchdown in the third quarter.

After three preseason games with extensive action in the offense, Gabbert is feeling comfortable with Arians' complex scheme.

"It's such a great system," Gabbert said. "It puts a lot on the quarterback but with playing the position that's all you can ask for. We throw the ball a lot. It's a great job."

Gabbert showed a little bit of everything Saturday. He ran, he threw deep, he showed his steel under pressure and he displayed his composure. But he still felt there were areas for improvement.

"There's definitely a lot of good film to watch," Gabbert said. "There's a lot of good learning that's going to take place.

"We definitely did some good things in the second half. We moved the ball pretty much at will. When we stalled on a couple drives it was self-inflicted wounds. The line did a great job in the second half and the rest was just trying to make plays."