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Bears QB Jay Cutler leg-whips Lions with key gains

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is hit hard by Detroit cornerback Jonte Green after completing long run first quarter. The Chicago

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is hit hard by Detroit cornerback Jonte Green after completing a long run in the first quarter. The Chicago Bears took a 10-0 lead over the Detroit Lions into the locker room at halftime. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Jay Cutler’s shoulder took a beating in the first half Monday night against the Detroit Lions. But his legs were fine.

Facing a third-and-eight from the Bears’ 43-yard line on their first possession, Cutler scrambled for 11 yards and a first down. Three plays later, he threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall for a 7-0 lead.

On a first-and-20 play from the Bears’ 40 after a holding penalty on Gabe Carimi, Cutler took advantage of a wide-open middle of the field, refusing to slide as the defense closed in on him, for a 24-yard gain and another first down.

Cutler scrambled for a 16-yard gain to the 9-yard line in the second quarter. But the play was nullified by offsetting penalties.

Cutler came into the game with scrambles of 21, 13, 12 and nine yards. Last year, he had four carries longer than four yards, with a long gain of 12 yards.

Stripped clean

Linebacker Lance Briggs continued the defense’s uncanny knack for takeaways by stripping Lions running back Mikel Leshoure late in a running play to thwart a Lions drive late in the first half.

Briggs was prone, with Leshoure on top of him, when he reached behind him with his left arm to knock the ball away. Julius Peppers recovered at the Bears’ 17-yard line. It was Briggs’ 16th career forced fumble.

Blitz is on

The Bears are a big blitzing team in Lovie Smith’s cover-2, but they’ve stepped it up this season.

On the Lions’ second possession, safety Chris Conte stopped Leshoure for a one-yard gain. After a Bears timeout, Brian Urlacher deflected a Matthew Stafford pass on a blitz. On third-and-nine, Conte came in untouched and forced Stafford to scramble and throw a two-yard completion that forced the Lions to punt.

Rams sign Williams

Former Bears offensive lineman Chris Williams, who was released last week, signed with the St. Louis Rams on Monday.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said the emergence of reserve offensive tackle Jonathan Scott as a swing tackle and roster concerns at other positions were among the key factors that led to the Bears releasing Williams.

‘’The key to be able to [cut] Chris Williams is we brought in Jon Scott [a former starter with the Steelers], a player we like very much,’’ Emery said on the Bears’ radio pregame show. ‘‘It took him a couple of weeks to [learn] our system. We liked what we saw in practice. And there is the added element that he’s a legitimate backup long snapper.

‘’[With Scott] we felt like we had a viable candidate at swing tackle — that was Chris’ current role. And we have good depth at guard and a couple of good tackles on our practice squad.’’

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