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Cutler sharp at Bears win

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RICK GANO
August 23, 2009
— Jay Cutler wasted little time showing the fans at Soldier Field what they've been waiting to see ever since he joined the Chicago Bears.

Cutler came out and led the Bears to points on their first three possessions — his only three series of the game— as Chicago moved out to a quick 17-point lead and beat the New York Giants 17-3 Saturday night.


Playing a game with the Bears for the first time on his new home field, Cutler completed 8 of 13 passes for 121 yards, led TD drives of 80 and 92 yards and threw for a score.


His sub-par performance a week ago in the preseason opener against Buffalo was quickly forgotten.


"It's preseason. Everyone got a little excited last week when we didn't produce but we looked OK tonight," Cutler said. "There's still room for improvement, so we're going to go back to work. We're coming together as an offense. We're not quite there yet."


Cutler outplayed Eli Manning, who left after four series. Manning completed 7 of 10 passes for 62 yards. He was sacked twice, fumbled once — the Giants recovered — and was also called for intentional grounding.


The Giants made a quick turnaround and had a short practice week after beating Carolina on Monday night.


"That's no excuse. We were prepared and we looked at everything. We just didn't execute. Too many negative plays," Manning said.


Cutler has already being hailed as the Bears' best quarterback since Sid Luckman and his arrival after a testy departure from the Broncos has been making headlines for months. The Pro Bowl quarterback hit only 5 of 10 passes against the Bills but looked much smoother Saturday night.


"We're kind of coming together, myself and the line, you know, with how I can move in the pocket, and when I can step up, when I can take off," Cutler said.


"It doesn't happen overnight. We've got some new linemen, new receivers, a new quarterback. We're all trying to figure it out.


On his first pass attempt Cutler was hit as he dropped back but completed it a 27-yarder to his former Vanderbilt teammate Earl Bennett. He then hit a 10-yard pass to Devin Hester before a drop and an overthrow left him 2-for-4 on the opening series, one that ended with Robbie Gould's 44-yard field goal.


Later in the first quarter, he connected on a 15-yarder to Bennett and then a 17-yarder to Greg Olsen during a five-play, 80-yard TD drive that was capped by Forte's 32-yard TD run for a 10-0 lead.


Forte, a standout as a rookie a year ago who'd hurt a hamstring during offseason drills, sat out last week's exhibition opener against Buffalo.


The Giants were depleted defensively. Linebackers Antonio Pierce and Michael Boley were on the inactive list as were cornerback Aaron Ross and safety Kenny Phillips. Defensive tackles Rocky Benard and Chris Canty were also sidelined by injuries. Backup DT Jay Alford was carted off with a knee sprain early in the third quarter.


But Giants defensive end Justin Tuck called the performance one "that leaves a bad taste."


"It's the preseason, but we didn't do what we wanted to," he added.


Cutler and Hester nearly connected for a big play to start the second quarter. Cutler rolled out and found Hester more than 10 yards behind the Giants' secondary, but the former kick returner couldn't catch up with the long pass that would have been an easy touchdown.


"We had a shot there. I overthrew it a little bit. It's going to happen," Cutler said.


Later in the same drive, Cutler showed off his legs, scrambling 12 yards for a first down. Cutler then made a nice lead pass to to Devin Aromashodu, whose highlight-reel, fully extended catch was good for a 38-yard gain and first down at the Giants 1. Cutler then faked into the line and tossed a TD pass to Desmond Clark to make it 17-0.


New York (1-1) also used David Carr and Andre'Woodson at quarterback but couldn't find the end zone or offensive consistency.


Giants coach Tom Coughlin said his team couldn't get first downs — only 11 for the game— or protect the passer well. "There was no continuity," he said.


"We got beat. We have no excuses."



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