After two weeks of comeback wins the underlying assumption around Ford Field was that if the defense could get a stop or two, Jay Cutler and the offense would win this game, too.
“(The Lions) go up by three with 40 seconds left, then you see our offense driving down there in a couple of passes,” said defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins. “That’s the guts you’ve got to have. The offense really had the guts today. They carried the load of the team today.”
Cutler completed 26 of 41 passes for 353 yards and a touchdown to Alshon Jeffery. It marked the fifth-highest passing yardage for him as a Bear. But it came with an interception that cost the Bears points in a game that turned on single isolated plays. The Bears are now 0-3 in 2015 when Cutler throws an interception.
The third-quarter interception by cornerback Rashean Mathis was devastating, coming on a second-and-goal situation from the Detroit six-yard line, with the Bears in position to seize momentum in the second half. With the kind of poor fundamentals that have too often undone him, Cutler threw off his back foot toward Jeffery in the left corner of the end zone, left the ball underthrown where the defensive back had a better shot at the ball than Jeffery, and the Bears squandered a scoring opportunity in a game where the defense needed help against a resurgent Detroit offense.
“Al said he lost some in the light,” Cutler said. “I’ve still got to put it out there a little bit farther for him and let him make a play.”
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Jeffery, however, blamed himself on a ball that appeared to surprise him and which he appeared to fight for too late. “That was my fault,” Jeffery said. “It had nothing to do with his throw. I just couldn’t see it in the lights.”
But as he did against Oakland and Kansas City, Cutler was able to guide the offense into position for critical scores, part of a fourth quarter that saw the Bears score 18 points to overcome a 24-16 deficit to start the quarter.
If there was a failing it lay in the Bears’ inability to score touchdowns on all but three of eight trips inside the Detroit 20-yard line.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Cutler said. “We battled. I can only speak for the offense and myself, we’ve got to do better in the red zone, we’ve got to do better down there.”
Some of Cutler’s improv work was impressive. He evaded pressure to complete a third-quarter pass to Marquess Wilson of 46 yards. And credit Cutler with one of the most athletic plays of his Chicago career, evading two near-sacks and scrambling free to launch a 22-yard playground heave toward Jeffery, in single coverage deep.
Moon's Grade: A-