When it was time to finish off the Chargers, the Bears found a way. Quarterback Jay Cutler snapped a third-quarter tie with a touchdown run and then a TD pass; he later tracked down Antoine Cason for a touchdown-saving stop after his first interception in nearly a month; and Chicago outgained San Diego 106 yards to nothing in the fourth quarter as they pulled away for a 31-20 victory.
CHICAGO — When it was time to finish off the Chargers, the Bears found a way.
Quarterback Jay Cutler snapped a third-quarter tie with a touchdown run and then a TD pass; he later tracked down Antoine Cason for a touchdown-saving stop after his first interception in nearly a month; and Chicago outgained San Diego 106 yards to nothing in the fourth quarter as they pulled away for a 31-20 victory.
“Today, as you know, it was about the offense,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said after his team's fifth straight win. “Jay Cutler was outstanding. We’ve been waiting for Roy Williams to have a game like that. And the new changes on the offensive line, I think we scored every time we got down in the red zone. ...They’re buying in, and we feel really good about what we’re doing.”
What they’re doing is winning in different ways. The Bears’ defense (two touchdowns) and special teams (a Devin Hester return for a TD) carried them last week in a win over Detroit, while the offense managed just 216 yards. This week, however, even with lineman Edwin Williams getting his first start of the year at left guard for injured Chris Williams, it was the offense that paved the way.
Cutler threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns, the Bears racked up 379 yards of offense, and they converted seven straight third downs into firsts in the second half. Then to cap it all off, they held the ball for all but 39 seconds of the fourth quarter as they slammed the door on the slumping Chargers.
“They are an outstanding team. They did some good things on third down, and we obviously couldn’t get them off the field there,” said head coach Norv Turner, whose Chargers have dropped five in a row. “They played at a real high level today. Throughout most of the game, I thought we were able to match that, and we were going to have a chance... But we just didn’t have enough firepower to get back into it.”
Cutler hit tight end Kellen Davis with 20 seconds left in the first half for a 17-10 lead, but the Chargers tied it up on their first possession of the third quarter. That was when the Bears took control.
“That’s what you’ve got to have in November and December,” Cutler said. “You’ve got to be able to finish games.”
Three straight 10-plus-yard completions to Williams (who finished with five catches for 62 yards) and a 42-yard pass to Johnny Knox (3-97) down to the 1-yard-line set up Cutler’s TD dive as the Bears took command. Cutler hit Knox for a 24-yard touchdown late in the third, and the Bears never gave San Diego a chance to recover.
“This was big for us. I think we got the ball with (9:31) to go in the fourth, and we ran it all the way down to two minutes. That was big,” Roy Williams said. “We let our defense hang out on the sidelines and rest, and they came out and finished it off for us with a pick.”
Cornerback Charles Tillman forced and recovered a fumble for the Bears’ D, and Major Wright and Corey Graham had fourth-quarter picks to make sure the momentum stayed with the Bears.
“It was time for somebody,” Wright said, “to make a play.”
And late in this game, it was the Bears who were making all the plays.
Bears reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.