Preps Talk

Mercurial Cutler winning at an impressive rate

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Mercurial Cutler winning at an impressive rate

At some point a championship team usually needs its quarterback to win a game. Not not-lose one. Win one.

The Bears got one of those from Jay Cutler on Sunday.

The final points of the Bears 23-22 win over the Carolina Panthers were scored by the defense and special teams. But the pivotal figure for the Bears on Sunday was Cutler.

His play was a major factor in the Bears falling behind 19-7. But where he once could be counted on for the poor decision -- and worse, throw -- under the pressure of deciding moments (fourth quarter, Green Bay this season) he completed 12 of 14 passes in the fourth quarter Sunday, one for a touchdown, none to Panthers.

The Bears are 25-8 in Cutler starts since the close of the 2009 season.

Sybil Jay

He was by turns visibly miffed at booing by Soldier Field fans; calm and amusing with the game in its deciding moments; arguing with officials after failing to get calls; and then a franchise quarterback.

He was horrendous for three quarters (37.6 passer rating). He fumbled twice; he was intercepted on the first possession when he underthrew an open Brandon Marshall; he was sacked six times in the first half, assuming the persona of a training-camp tackling dummy for the Carolina pass rush. If they needed extra time to get there, Cutler waited for them.

Didnt move as well as I wanted to, Cutler said. Hed even gotten second and third opinions on that. I kept asking JB QB coach Jeremy Bates and J-Cam backup quarterback Jason Campbell if I was staying in there too long or what the deal is.

Fan favoritenot

Cutler appeared to wonder what the deal was with fans as he ran into the tunnel at halftime hearing boos. Looking up into the stands he muttered. Well, CSNChicago.com will leave his exact words to lip readers than ours.

Booing a 5-1 team playing at halftime is the prerogative of a free-speech society and Cutler said right things given time (advice?) to self-assess.

I mean, Id boo us, too, Cutler said. I told those guys it was a boo-worthy performance, if you will.

All that was periphery. What mattered was not only Cutlers play when the game was on the line, but also what he inspired in others.

Calm amid crisis

A famous anecdote was Joe Montana coming out for a final score-or-lose possession in a Super Bowl, and teammates recalling Montana arriving in the nervous, jittery huddle and marveling, Hey, thats John Candy over there in the stands!

Cutler didnt invoke fan sightings but he did react the right way for his own jittery teammates when he got ready for a final possession needing a score to avoid a loss.

Im sitting here shaking, a little bit of the cold weather, a little bit nervous and he just starts smiling like, Well, here we go, and just put me at ease right away, said Marshall, who caught four of the seven passes on the drive that set up Robbie Goulds winning field goal.

And the guys feel that vibe and they play off of it. So Jay definitely led that whole drive and made us pick up our game.

The latest AP preps boys and girls basketball poll

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The latest AP preps boys and girls basketball poll

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school basketball teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:

BOYS BASKETBALL

Class 4A

Others receiving votes: New Trier 13, Bloomington 12, Oak Park-River Forest 12, Normal West 10, Evanston 5, Fenwick 5, Lincoln Park 4, Maine South 3, Rockford Jefferson 3, Quincy 3, Loyola 1.

Class 3A

Others receiving votes: Lincoln 7, St. Rita 4, Benton 3, Burlington Central 2, Murphysboro 2, Morton 1.

Class 2A

Others receiving votes: Teutopolis 18, St. Joseph-Ogden 16, Bloomington Central Catholic 15, Corliss 14, Chicago Uplift 5, Trenton Wesclin 2, Deer Creek-Mackinaw 1, Quincy Notre Dame 1.

Class 1A

Others receiving votes: New Berlin 16, Cairo 10, Okawville 5, Bushnell (B-Prairie City) 5, Newark 4, Nokomis 2, Decatur Lutheran (LSA) 1, Cissna Park 1.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Class 4A

Others receiving votes: Springfield 9, Marist 8, Whitney Young 2, Bolingbrook 1, Bradley-Bourbonnais 1, Chatham Glenwood 1, Naperville Central 1, Normal West 1.

Class 3A

Others receiving votes: Burlington Central 8, Bishop McNamara 4, Breese Central 3, Sycamore 1

Class 2A

Others receiving votes: Chicago Marshall 15, Harvest Christian Academy 11, Williamsville 9, Tuscola 3, Nashville 3, Knoxville 1, Harlan 1, Hall 1, Auburn 1, Pana  1.

Class 1A

Others receiving votes: Okawville 6, East Dubuque 6, Colfax Ridgeview 5.

The must-listen Nicky Delmonico White Sox Talk Podcast

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USA TODAY

The must-listen Nicky Delmonico White Sox Talk Podcast

While taking part in the White Sox hitters camp in Glendale, Ariz., Nicky Delmonico joined Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey on the podcast to talk about his impressions of Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez. But that was only the beginning. 

Delmonico went in-depth about his first major league season, doing hot yoga this winter with Jake Burger, the one White Sox player he expects to have a big season in 2018 (the answer might surprise you), losing a big bet to Tim Anderson.

Plus, Delmonico helps us give away a pair of 3-day passes to Sox Fest and much more.

Listen to the latest White Sox Talk Podcast right here: