Jay Cutler's return to the field did not begin well. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
When he threw for 348 yards in the Chicago Bears' 45-28 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 9, quarterback Josh McCown became the first signal-caller in the franchise's long history to throw for more than 300 yards in three straight games. McCown has been one of the NFL's most efficient quarterbacks this season when spelling starter Jay Cutler through a string of injuries, but that didn't stop head coach Marc Trestman from naming Cutler his main man against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Cutler was cleared this week to return from a high snkle sprain, and that was that.
However, things did not begin well for Mr. Cutler. The Bears got the ball first, and though he drove the team into the red zone from his own 32-yard line on the opening drive, Cutler ended said drive with a forced deep throw to Brandon Marshall that was deflected by safety T.J. Ward and picked off by Tashaun Gipson. Ouch.
(GIF courtesy @SBNationGIF)
Gipson returned the pick from the end zone to the Cleveland 27-yard line. The throw was vintage Cutler, and not in a good way -- he forced a zinger into coverage with iffy footwork, and the result seemed somewhat inevitable.
And then, with 8:14 left in the first half ... the Cutler-to-Gipson connection happened again. This time, Gipson scored a touchdown on a 44-yard return.
Cutler settled down and threw 265 yards and three touchdowns as the Bears won 38-31 to stay in contention for the NFC North title at 8-6.