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Cutler’s success in fourth quarter huge step up from seasons past

Updated: December 2, 2012 2:18PM

Bears receiver Brandon Marshall needs help deciding on a new nickname for quarterback Jay Cutler for his fourth-quarter success.

‘‘I texted him over a few nicknames, like ‘The Closer’ and ‘Ace,’ ’’ Marshall said. ‘‘I’m trying to figure out a nickname for him, so if you guys could help me, I’d
appreciate it.

‘‘Jay is one of those guys where he has that clutch gene. You hear guys talking about it. Some believe it, some don’t, but Jay has it.’’

Some probably don’t
believe it because Cutler hasn’t been overly impressive in the fourth quarter until this season for the Bears. But some probably do because he has manufactured 17 game-winning drives, including one Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, in his

Like everything with Cutler, the truth is probably somewhere in between. But what’s apparent is that his league-leading 132.0 quarterback rating in the fourth quarter is by far his best mark with the Bears (73.4
in 2009, 77.7 in 2010 and 60.5 in 2011).

So what gives?

Cutler suggested Wednesday he has been the bene-
ficiary of favorable circumstances. The addition of Marshall has given him a true go-to receiver, which helps immensely, and the Bears’ defense has given the offense leads to build on. Cutler’s
career fourth-quarter rating is 80.7, with more interceptions (28) and sacks (54) than in any other quarter.

‘‘I’m getting lucky, I guess,’’ a chuckling Cutler said. ‘‘We’re just figuring it out in the fourth quarter. [Our] defense is putting us in positions where we’re leading games, and [opposing] defenses are trying to get the ball back, [using] a lot of single-high [coverage], which makes it a lot easier on the outside throwing the ball. We’ve hit some big plays out there. The way our
defense is playing and carry-
ing leads into the fourth quarter makes my job easier.’’

But Cutler, who has thrown six of his nine touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, deserves credit, too.

Backup quarterback Jason
Campbell, who had a 104.1 quarterback rating in the fourth quarter last season for the Oakland Raiders, said it takes patience and resilience to succeed late, noting Cutler’s game-winning drive against the Panthers.

‘‘The one thing Jay did a good job of Sunday was not getting frustrated to the point where he knew in the fourth quarter to not worry about the things that happened early, but to stay
focused on things to try and win the game,’’ Campbell said. ‘‘That’s the reason
we execute in the fourth quarters.’’

It’s a trait most good quarterbacks have, but not all of them, Campbell said.

Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak said he
always has been ‘‘a big fan’’ of Cutler, knowing he’s
capable of orchestrating
game-winning drives. Mun-
chak worked with Cutler during the 2006 Senior Bowl and closely watched his
career at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., as a longtime member of the Titans’ staff.

‘‘When he gets hot, he can be a huge problem for you,’’ Munchak said. ‘‘The bottom line with Chicago is, if they’re going to make their run . . . you need a quarterback, a great defense, and you need the offense to do what they’re doing like he did in the game last week — finding a way to win the game at the end.

‘‘He took the ball down on a two-minute drive and won the football game. That’s what you need to have, and that’s what he proved he can do last week.’’

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