Players and coaches maintained all week that Thursday night in Green Bay against the Packers would be just another game. As expected; a balanced mindset is as important as a balanced offense and there’s usually little benefit from ramping up the gravity or importance of a game.
But for Jay Cutler, who’d never won a game in Lambeau Field as a starting quarterback, this wasn’t just another game and teammates knew it.
“I’m sure there have been times in the past where he played well and he hasn’t had his back,” said tackle Kyle Long. “We got Jay’s back, and he knows that, and he was excited.”
Cutler kept his head while many in Lambeau Field were losing theirs, completing 19 of 31 passes for a modest 200 yards (189 net) and a touchdown and passer rating of 90.8. The result was a 17-13 win, the third in the last four for the Bears and the eighth in Cutler’s last nine with a passer rating of 88 or better.
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The one-time NFL poster QB for interceptions, who showed his focus on ball security by going virtually the first two weeks of training camp without throwing a single interception, threw none on Thursday. It was his fourth INT-free game in 10 this season after five all last season. Cutler threw two or more interceptions in seven of his 15 games last season; he has yet to throw two in a game this season.
The only other time Cutler has beaten the Green Bay Packers as a starting quarterback came in 2010 and the Bears needed 18 Packers penalties to escape with a 20-17 victory. So “yeah, it’s huge,” Cutler said Thursday.
“It’s been a fun week, for me. The Sunday game, and having a baby on Monday, and turning around and playing Thursday. So now I think that everyone is looking forward to going home and spending some time with family.”
Mitch Trubisky is going to the Pro Bowl, with the Bears' quarterback replacing Jared Goff on the NFC roster with the Rams advancing to the Super Bowl.
Trubisky was previously named a Pro Bowl alternate after throwing for 3,223 yards with 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 95.4. Trubisky's passer rating ranked 10th in the NFC, behind Drew Brees, Russell Wilson (who replaced Aaron Rodgers on the NFC roster), Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz (who's injured), Goff, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kirk Cousins, Rodgers and Dad Prescott. Trubisky's 3,223 yards rank 11th in the conference, while only three NFC quarterbacks threw more interceptions than Trubisky (Jameis Winston, Josh Rosen and Cam Newton).
Still, the Bears will take Trubisky's invite to the Pro Bowl as a positive marker in his development even if his production wasn't in the top half of quarterbacks in his own conference. He's the first Bears quarterback to be named to a Pro Bowl since Jim McMahon in 1986.
In the aftermath of the Bears' first-round playoff exit, coach Matt Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace and Trubisky's teammates said they were pleased with the growth Trubisky made in 2018.
“We're lucky to have him," Nagy said. "I'm looking forward to the future. I really am, with him, because the city of Chicago is lucky to have that kid at quarterback.”
Trubisky will join defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson and returner Tarik Cohen at the Pro Bowl, with linebacker Khalil Mack dropping out after tweaking his knee against the Philadelphia Eagles. Jackson's inclusion in the Bears' press release about Trubisky would seem to indicate he'll be going to Orlando after missing the Bears' final three games of the season with a sprained ankle.
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Time to readjust that 2019 Bears' games budget.
On Monday morning, the Bears announced that they'll be headed to London next season:
It'll be the first time the Bears have played in London since October 2011, when they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-18.
It's one of 5 international games next season, all of which were announced this morning:
Get ready for some 9am Bears football!