Without a doubt, the highlight of the Chicago Bears’ 30-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night wasn’t the win itself. Let’s face it, not even Lovie Smith was that impressed with the actual victory. Plus, it only moved Chicago to 5-3 on the year, good enough for the final Wild Card slot in the NFC but still not good enough for anything better than third place in their very backbreaking division.
No, the truly great thing that happened on Monday, the one worthy of praise and attention, was the official breaking of one of the worst modern streaks in the NFL. The one streak that should have made Bears quarterback Jay Cutler a magnet for pity from anyone who understands the game of football.
Finally, finally the Bears went a full game without letting their quarterback get sacked. Finally.
Monday’s win versus the Eagles marked the first time in 32 games -- and second time since he joined the team in 2009 -- that he wasn’t absolutely clobbered by opposing defensive players.
Did Cutler notice the difference? You bet.
"It's nice," Cutler told reporters. "I was thinking about halfway through the game, I was like, 'Let's not jinx this yet,' I didn't want to say anything but it was looking pretty good."
As it turns out, the Bears' much-maligned quarterback is pretty good when he isn’t being forced to run for his life because of an embarrassingly porous offensive line. Over the course of the last three games, Chicago has only allowed three sacks. Cutler’s offense, in turn, has put up a healthy 25 points per game, ranks 17th in total yards and has been a huge part of the team’s current three game winning streak.
"It's so much more fun, just going out there and playing with those guys and being able to execute the offence and have some fun and be creative," he said. "That's what it's all about."
This week, Chicago will face a serious test in the Detroit Lions who will get Nick Fairley back to bolster up an already impressive defense. Two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos, the Lions were able bring quarterback Tim Tebow down seven times.
That’s right, seven sacks.
Whether or not Cutler will get a permanent clemency from his marshmallow soft defense remains to be seen. If the Bears are able to abuse the Lions’ current run defense woes, they may be able to distract the opposition long enough to take some heat off their quarterback. Of course, just easily, Detroit could get their run defense back together by that point and sack Cutler three times like they did a few weeks ago.
Regardless of what ultimately ends up happening this weekend and in future weeks, it's important to remember that the buck shouldn't simply stop with Cutler just because he's the quarterback when things don't go the team's way. He's dealing with a situation that 90 percent of the passers in the league would have trouble with, and he's handling it with poise and dignity on a regular basis.
Who knows, maybe if the offensive line keeps Cutler off his back long enough, maybe he'll win a few more games for them.