Cutler's errant throws cost Bears in loss to Eagles

Matt Trowbridge

Jay Cutler kept throwing high and wide, missing one open receiver after another, including three throws that would have been easy touchdowns.

“I missed some throws early,” Cutler said. “That can’t happen. When you get down in the red zone, you’ve got to get in.”

“He missed some throws,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said, “but we recovered from that and got ourselves back in position, but we couldn’t pull it out.”

The Bears sputtered late on offense even worse than they did early, going three-and-out three consecutive times after taking the lead, and then throwing an interception on their final possession of a 24-20 loss Sunday night to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Everything hurt throughout,” Lovie Smith said, “from the start in not getting more points early to at the end when we had a lead and we weren’t able to hold it.”

Now the Bears (4-6) are left wondering if they can regroup after losing for the fifth time in their past six games.

“We’re running out of time,” Cutler said. “The window is getting smaller and smaller.”

Philadelphia (6-4) started as if it would blow Chicago out. Wildcat quarterback Michael Vick ran 34 yards on the third play of the game to help the Eagles take a 3-0 lead.

On their next possession, a third-down facemask penalty on defensive tackle Israel Idonije kept alive a 76-yard drive that ended in Donovan McNabb’s 13-yard screen pass to Jason Avant for a 10-0 Eagles’ lead.

Chicago cut it to 10-3 on a 45-yard Robbie Gould field goal after Cutler overthrew Greg Olsen and Devin Hester in the end zone on back-to-back plays from the 28.

Chicago cut it to 10-9 at halftime with two more Gould field goals, but couldn’t get into the end zone after having first downs at the 10- and 15-yard lines.

“Field goals aren’t going to cut it against a good team,” Olsen said.

A 72-yard run by undrafted rookie Kahlil Bell, promoted from the practice squad on Friday, set up the second field goal.

“He’s a good change-up,” Cutler said. “He’s a one-cut guy and gets downhill.”

Another Gould field goal of 49 yards gave the Bears their first lead at 12-10, but the Eagles went ahead 17-12 on a 48-yard TD pass from McNabb (23 of 32 for 244 yards) to DeSean Jackson.

The Bears then answered with their lone touchdown drive. A 41-yard Johnny Knox kickoff return set them up at the 45 and Cutler completed 4 of 4 passes for 45 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown to third-string tight end Kellen Davis. A two-point conversion pass to Matt Forte put the Bears up 20-17 late in the third quarter.

The defense then stopped the Eagles twice, the second time on Charles Tillman’s third forced fumble of the game. The Bears finished with a 3-1 edge in turnovers, recovering two fumbles and getting an interception from Zack Bowman.

But the Bears went three-and-out on their next three possessions, including a blocked 47-yard field goal after Tillman’s last forced fumble.

“We’ve got to take advantage there,” Cutler said. “The defense was doing everything they possibly can for us out there.”

Philadelphia drove 63 yards for the lead after the blocked field goal to lead 24-20 on a 10-yard run by McCoy (99 yards on 20 carries). Chicago punted after Cutler overthrew an open Knox deep on third-and-5, then got one final chance when the Bears took over at their own 21 with no timeouts and 1:51 remaining. Chicago picked up its only first down of the fourth quarter, but free safety Sean Jones then intercepted Cutler.

“It’s frustrating for all of us,” Lovie Smith said. “That wasn’t part of the master plan, but that’s where we are now.”

Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or