While stingy defense in the second half and some big plays on special teams helped the Bears come back against the Lions, it was Jay Cutler who threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to TE Brandon Manumaleuna with 8:39 to play in the fourth quarter, giving Chicago a 24-20 lead that would hold for the rest of the game.
On that final scoring drive, Cutler threw for 45 yards, rushed for eight and drew a penalty for unnecessary roughness that resulted in another seven yards. On the six-play, 60-yard drive, Cutler played a role in every yard the Bears gained, and he completed all eight passes he threw in the fourth quarter.
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The entire Bears' offense has matured since a Week Eight bye, and Cutler's development within offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system has been easy to notice.
He has avoided throwing an interception in each of the past two games, which is the first time he has gone back-to-back games without a pick since the 2007 season. He did lose a fumble on a strip-sack Sunday, but since his four-interception meltdown in a loss to the Redskins on Oct. 24, the Bears are 5-0 and Cutler has a touchdown-interception ratio of 10-3.
Cutler is just in the middle of the pack statistically — he ranks 16th in the league in passing yards (2,545), 13th in TD passes (17) and 13th in completion percentage (63.2), but here's the number Bears fans should care about more than any other — nine.
When the Bears notched their ninth win of the season on Sunday, it guaranteed that Cutler would finish the season on a team with a record above .500 for the first time since he was in high school.
If Cutler keeps protecting the ball, picking up yards with his legs — he's five yards away from setting a career high in rushing yards — and settles for check-downs when it doesn't look like anything is going to develop for receivers further down the field, that win total should increase and 2010 could go down as Cutler's best season yet no matter how his own statistics shape up.