Reports surfaced after Sunday’s game that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler broke a bone in his throwing hand during the 31-20 win over San Diego, though no one from the team would confirm the injury.
CHICAGO — Reports surfaced after Sunday’s game that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler broke a bone in his throwing hand during the 31-20 win over San Diego, though no one from the team would confirm the injury.
Members of the Bears’ public relations staff would not comment, but according to a Chicago newspaper, Cutler broke his right thumb during the game. He managed to play through it, completing 18-for-31 passes for 286 yards with two touchdown passes and a TD run. But by press time there was no word as to the extent of the injury, or whether or not Cutler would miss time.
“We had some bumps and bruises,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said in postgame, “but we came out of the game in pretty good shape.”
Or did they?
Wright hauls in another INT
Major Wright, the second-year guy who replaced Chris Harris at strong safety, has an interception in three straight games after he pulled in a pick in the Bears’ end zone as the Chargers fought to get back into the game in the fourth quarter. Defensive end Israel Idonije pressured Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who floated one right into Wright’s arms early in the fourth quarter.
Wright, who had three tackles and a tackle for loss, is also sixth on the team with 42 tackles.
Jackson, Gates go off, but lose
San Diego’s two most dangerous weapons, Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, both had their one of their best games of the season Sunday against the Bears, but the Chargers lost anyway.
Jackson caught seven passes for 165 yards with a touchdown, while Gates had four grabs for 63 yards and a TD. However, Jackson had only three receptions for 69 yards in the second half while Gates was held to one catch for 11 yards in the third and fourth quarters.
“He won a lot of those battles today, I can’t deny him that,” Bears corner Charles Tillman said. “He is tough to cover. He won the battle today... But we’re streaking — in a good way.”
Williams grabs three in a row
Bears wide receiver Roy Williams, who came into the game with 16 catches on the season, had a team-best five catches, including three in a row during a key Bears’ touchdown drive.
“That’s what I need. That’s what I envisioned when I came here. I’m sorry it took until Week 10,” Williams said. “Sorry it took until Week 10 to get going. I told you it was going to be a process.”
With the game tied at 17-apiece, QB Jay Cutler looked Williams’ way on three consecutive plays, hitting him for 11, 12 and 11 yards to kick-start the nice march. The Bears drove 83 yards on eight plays before Cutler dove in for a 1-yard TD that gave Chicago the lead for good.
They’re still kicking to Hester
Despite his statement earlier in the week that “I’m not going to ask my guys to run down and cover that guy,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner elected to punt to Devin Hester twice, giving up nearly 30 yards per return.
“There are a lot of things that go into it,” Turner said Sunday. “But I thought we had a good plan, he just did a great job of returning.”
Hester, who returned a punt 82 yards for a TD last week, also had three kickoff returns for 48 yards, and another long punt return that was chiseled down because of a holding penalty.
Tillman redeems self
Cornerback Charles Tillman redeemed himself after a slow start on Sunday by punching the ball out of running back Ryan Mathews’ hands for a key second-half turnover. The Bears scored a TD two plays later to give them a 31-17 commanding lead.
“The guy is a prime example of Chicago football,” Williams said of Tillman. “They’re throwing the ball deep, and then he comes back and makes the play of the game. He knocks that ball out — how’s he do it, I don’t know. It’s like he sticks his hand in there and it magically falls out.”
Bears reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bears report card
Passing offense: A-
Jay Cutler (18-for-31 for 286 yards with two TDs) shook off his first interception in almost a month, and had another solid game. The third-year Bears QB completed eight straight passes during three consecutive touchdown drives, throwing for 126 yards and two scores during that stretch. Roy Williams (5-62) and Johnny Knox (3-97 and a TD) had big games as Cutler spread it around, throwing to seven different receivers.
Rushing offense: B-
Matt Forte (20-57) got off to a rough start with just 12 yards on his first seven carries, but he finished strong, helping the Bears run out nearly the entire fourth-quarter clock. Forte had just 13 yards at halftime. Marion Barber (7-25) had his fifth rushing TD of the year, and Cutler dove in for his first rushing touchdown of the season as well. Still, the Bears managed just a 2.9-yard-per-carry average (32-93).
Passing defense: B-
Chicago hauled in two interceptions and gave up no yards in the fourth quarter, but Philip Rivers (21-for-31 for 280 yards and two TDs) had a 90.8 passer rating and Vincent Jackson (7-165 and a TD) ran wild on the Bears in the first half. Still, the way Chicago slammed the door late, it could’ve been a lot worse.
Rushing defense: A
San Diego’s Ryan Mathews (13-37) and Mike Tolbert (3-14) went nowhere all day. The Chargers rushed for 52 yards as a team, but 23 of them came on one Mathews first-half carry.
Special teams: A
Devin Hester had a 37-yard punt return that turned the tables on the field-position battle in the first half, and he returned another first-half punt deep into Chargers’ territory before a hold brought it back a bit. Johnny Knox also returned a late-first half kickoff to the Chargers’ 44 at the 2-minute warning to set up Chicago’s TD that gave them the lead. San Diego never recovered. Punter Adam Podlesh averaged 45.7 yards per punt and Robbie Gould nailed a 42-yard field goal, his only try of the day.
Mike Martz called his best game of the year, utilizing short pass patterns and rollouts to keep San Diego on its heels all day. The Bears also had a solid game plan to stop the Chargers’ potent offense, going back to the bend-but-don’t-break attitude. However, they didn’t even bend in the fourth quarter.
After their fifth win in a row, the Bears secure another “A.” This IS the hottest team in the NFL right now.
— Jay Taft