National Football League Hall of Fame coach John Madden once said, “You are what your record says you are.” In a day and age where critics want to scrutinize a team for their strength of schedule rather than praise them for a sparkling record, the Chicago Bears are receiving their fair share of criticism.
The Bears (6-1) narrowly escaped an embarrassing loss to a one-win Carolina Panthers team on Sunday in front of a sold out home Soldier Field crowd.
Trailing 19-7 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, the Bears needed a 41-yard field goal from Robbie Gould as time expired to cap the comeback win. The Bears also scored two touchdowns within a 12 second period to garner momentum for the first time since an early 7-0 lead.
Jay Cutler started the comeback by finding tight end Kellen Davis for a 12-yard strike, before cornerback Tim Jennings picked off Cam Newton and returned it 25 yards for a score.
The interception by Jennings was his NFL-leading sixth pick of the season, and the sixth INT return for the Bears defense this season. It was also his first career return for a score.
Much like the 2006 Super Bowl team, this years team is hearing whispers about how the defense is carrying the team.
Cutler had a response to that statement during his weekly radio show on ESPN 1000: “The defense is doing everything possible to help us win,’ he said. “Offensively we are making plays when we have to.”
It’s no secret Cutler is not going to win many popularity contests in Chicago and that is just fine with him. But it’s time to give credit where credit is deserved. Cutler is paid to win games and guide this team to a Super Bowl championship. Although the latter has not yet been reached, Cutler is accomplishing the former. The Bears are 11-1 in the last 12 games Cutler has started. Cutler has also been a strong finisher this season.
He has a quarterback rating of 132.0 in the fourth quarter this season, with six of his nine touchdowns coming in the final frame as well.
Cutler also pointed out something else critics are all too quick to forget: “It’s hard to win in the NFL,” he said. “Great teams find ways to win like that. Down the stretch they find ways to score, cause turnovers and get the job done when they are trailing.”
Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Cutler lead the Bears down the field on the Bears final two drives when the team needed him to step up his level of play the most?
At the end of the day a win is a win, the Bears are 6-1. More importantly the Bears are two games clear in the loss column over the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North standings.
TRAVIS DAVID is a contributor for FOOTBALL NATION and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Tdavid_21.