It looked bleak for Cutler early on. After playing smart football much of the season, Cutler committed a pair of first-half turnovers, including a disastrous 68-yard pick-six courtesy of Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett. Cutler now has 161 turnovers since the start of 2007, second only to New York's Eli Manning, but none of that mattered with the game on the line.
Trailing by five points late, Cutler delivered a fastball over the middle to tight end Zach Miller, who made a spectacular 25-yard catch to propel the Bears to a 22-19 win. Cutler kept several plays alive on that final possession because of his ability to avoid the San Diego pass rush.
Consider it a potential turning point for the Bears. John Fox's team failed miserably in recent games against Detroit and Minnesota to make plays in crunch time, but on Monday night, the Bears thrived under pressure. The club's suspect defense even pitched in on the final drive to preserve the victory as seldom-used Lamarr Houston sacked Philip Rivers on two occasions.
This is a character builder for the Bears, who overcame a laundry list of blunders -- Cutler's two turnovers, two missed field goal attempts and one massive defensive breakdown -- to improve to 3-5 on the season.
What it means: The Bears are still going to finish 6-10 or 7-9, but this effort gives Fox's team a little momentum heading into a tough stretch versus St. Louis, Denver and Green Bay. The Bears play hard every single week, which is a testament to the character in the locker room and the skill of the veteran coaching staff. This is called progress.
What were they thinking? Danny Woodhead's first-quarter touchdown reception was courtesy of a busted coverage between Bears linebacker Sam Acho and cornerback Kyle Fuller. Acho clearly dropped back in zone coverage as he allowed Woodhead to run behind him near the corner of the end zone, but help was nowhere to be found. That's because Fuller, who looked to be playing man coverage, had already vacated the area. The mistake set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Bears committed countless mental errors.
One reason to get excited: Jeremy Langford is the real deal. Although Ka'Deem Carey technically started the game, Langford took most the snaps in the backfield. Langford not only displayed a burst in the open field, he made a fabulous 31-yard diving reception to atone for last week's crucial drop against Minnesota. The rookie also proved reliable in picking up the blitz most of the evening. The Bears appear to be in good hands with Langford, who is the heir apparent to injured veteran Matt Forte (knee).
One reason to panic: Robbie Gould went 17-for-17 on field goals to start the year, but has missed three straight attempts. This is unchartered territory for Gould, the team's special teams captain and most tenured player inside the locker room. The decorated veteran experienced some accuracy issues in training camp, but quickly recovered when the regular season began.
Fantasy watch: Langford fantasy owners are in no hurry for Forte to come back. The fourth-round pick tallied 142 all-purpose yards, one touchdown and a two-point conversion. Despite some struggles in the opening 30 minutes, Alshon Jeffery finished the night with 10 receptions for 151 yards.
Ouch: The Bears finished the game without any major injuries. Linebacker Shea McClellin may return next week from a knee injury that has kept him out three straight weeks. McClellin and rookie center Hroniss Grasu spent 20 minutes working out with a member of the club's training staff before the game; a sign that both players are close to full strength.
Milestone men: Cutler broke the franchise record for most career touchdown passes (138) on Monday night when he connected with Martellus Bennett on a 1-yard score. Cutler moved past Hall of Famer Sid Luckman, who held the record for an astounding 23,794 days. Jeffery also became just the third Bears player since 1932 to have three straight 100-yard receiving games (Harlon Hill in 1965 & Jeff Graham in 1995), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.