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With Cutler, Bears Better Than Broncs' By A Mile

NFL News - August 31st, 2009 - Written by John

culterDevin Hester has a way of sucking the wind out of a stadium.

He's the reason the NFL has gotten google-eyed over hybrid players like Ted Ginn, Jr. and Percy Harvin, special teams game breakers who can rip away the momentum of a game if, and when, they put their hands on the ball.  He's the reason Jay Cutler's first trip back to Denver since being dealt to the Bears went from disastrous to dominating. And he's the reason Vegas' line, putting Chicago as 2-point underdogs, was both alarming and profitable at the same time.

Hester, who was told early in the preseason that he would not be handling many kicks this year to focus on getting more touches at receiver, broke the game from a 3-3 tie early in the second quarter with a 54-yard punt return, dashing past eight tacklers, and leading to Matt Forte's 1-yard TD push. The Bears never let go of that lead, improving to 2-1 with a 27-17 win at Mile High Stadium.

"It's a little bit weird. Different locker room, different sideline," the quarterback said. "But that's how it goes. I love where I'm at in Chicago. I think we're heading in the right direction offensively."

Cutler, showered by boos early in his return, tossed for 144 yard and a touchdown, much of that coming on a 98-yard drive just before halftime. Cutler has far outperformed his counterpart, Kyle Orton who was packaged in the Bears' deal to acquire Cutler, with a 92.0 passer rating throughout the first three games, compared to Orton's 61.5.

“We knew coming into this it was going to be a hostile environment, which was good,” added Cutler. “It’s good preparation for us.”

“Jay is Mr. Consistent,” Bears' defensive tackle Tommie Harris said. “He looked good out there. We’re just fortunate to have him in our orange and blue.”

Meanwhile, it was Orton who had an unremarkable performance against his old team. Despite completing 75-percent of his passes, Orton was sacked once and had to leave the game with a slice in his right index finger.

If you were looking for a quick buck, this pick was an obvious decision. Despite going winless through the first two games of the preseason, Denver was favored at home and Chicago seemed to be gaining momentum with each snap that Cutler accumulates. His first game was forgettable, forcing many of his 10 attempts into double coverage and frustrating some of his receivers. But it's been a different player under center since then. The third-year star showed his raw ability the next week against the Giants, going 8-of-13 with his first touchdown strike of the preseason. He also showcased an absolute cannon while throwing on the run, overthrowing the seemingly un-overthrowable Devin Hester on a 60-yard go route.

He was able to recover from a disastrous start Sunday night. Denver forced the Bears into three-and-outs in three of their first four drives to start the game and a rocking stadium only got louder. On the second drive of the game, starting from his own end zone, Cutler avoided being sacked for a safety twice, narrowly getting the pass off before being wrangled by Elvis Dumervil.
But after matching field goals, and keeping Denver at bay while the Bear offense tried to put things together, Hester hauled in a punt at his own 42 and moved it all the way to Denver's 4. The Bears would punch the ball into the end zone on their next two drives to blow the game open.

Denver head coach Josh McDaniels is still searching for answers on the offensive ball and seem to be reeling since the trade back in April. Already injured are first-round pick Knowshon Moreno and back-up quarterback Chris Simms. Orton's injury leaves the Broncos scrambling even more. The Broncos aren't indulging any information about his injured finger, leaving rookie quarterback Tom Brandstater as McDaniel's next logical choice.

"Look, we'll play with who we can play with," McDaniels said. "Life goes on sometimes in this league and you play with who you have."

He can relax and think about it without having to answer anymore Cutler questions. For now, anyway. The Broncos are not slated to meet the Bears again this season.

Quotes taken from ESPN and Yahoo! Sports.

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