Cutler shines at Soldier Field

CHICAGO -- Jay Cutler gave a glimpse of why he was a Pro Bowl quarterback last season, and how he can transform the Chicago Bears' offense by his mere presence.

He directed, he rolled out, he threw passes of varying distances and speeds with his strong arm, and one time -- on a play that must have made his coaches nervous -- took off on a 12-yard scramble.

All part of his first game with his new team at Soldier Field. He played only three series and the Bears scored on all three in a 17-3 exhibition win over the New York Giants on Saturday night.

"He made some great throws to our receivers. He was able to keep a drives going. He's an athlete. We're banking on him being able to make plays like that. It was good to see him take another step," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said.

Cutler's 8-for-13 passing performance for 121 yards included a TD pass to Desmond Clark and a couple of nice hookups with his former Vanderbilt teammate Earl Bennett.

"He'll throw it across the field, anywhere, with his arm strength and mobility. You never know where the ball is coming from," said Devin Aromashodu, who made a 38-yard reception to set up the TD pass to Clark.

Cutler's night was made easier by the return of running back Matt Forte and tight end Greg Olsen, both of whom missed the opening loss to Buffalo, when Cutler was only 5 for 10. Forte, a rookie star last season, broke off a 32-yard touchdown run.

Still a relationship in progress is the one between Cutler and the guy who is supposed to be Chicago's go-to receiver, Devin Hester. They connected on two passes but missed on two others, one of which would have been a 91-yard TD pass after the speedy Hester slipped 15 yards behind the Giants' secondary.

But Cutler's pass was just out of the wide open Hester's reach. The Bears ended up driving for the TD anyhow, taking 10 plays to traverse the 92 yards.

"Me and Devin are still getting on the same page," Cutler said.

Cutler had to clear the air last week for a comment he made following the loss to Buffalo, when he appeared to suggest an interception he threw might not have been one had Hester gone up for the ball a little better.

With feelings patched up, the two nearly connected on the long TD Saturday night.

"We had a shot there, but I overthrew it a bit," Cutler said. "It's going to happen and we're going to miss plays out there. We're going to have miscommunications at times. We have to forget it and move on to the next play."

Speaking of moving on, that's what Cutler did after spending his first three seasons with the Broncos. He became disenchanted in Denver when he learned the team had talked about trading him for New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel.

And where do the Bears play their third exhibition? In Denver next Sunday night.

It should be an interesting homecoming for Cutler. He'll face his former team that is now quarterbacked by an ex-Bear, Kyle Orton, who was in the trade that sent Cutler to Chicago.