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Sorry, McCown — Trestman says Cutler is ‘our quarterback’

If Cutler is healthy, who should start the next game?

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GRADING THE BEARS: Week 14 vs. Cowboys
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Updated: December 10, 2013 12:18PM

Josh McCown didn’t need a defining play to mark his run as the Bears’ starting quarterback. But he delivered one just for the hell of it on ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’

The play featured a juke, a leap and a helicopter spin. And like McCown’s stellar and consistent play in place of injured starter Jay Cutler, it was unexpected — and
everything the Bears needed.

McCown’s seven-yard scamper past Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Nick Hayden and over other would-be tacklers on a spinning ascent into the end zone on third-and-goal in the
second quarter was undoubtedly a spark in the Bears’
45-28 victory.

‘‘Him getting up with a smile on his face, man, that just gets us going,’’ left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. ‘‘If he can go lay it out there like that, then we have to lay it out there like that.’’

Monday well might have been McCown’s last game of the season — he said he thought as much heading into it — and it was a brilliant way to cap his run if it was. His 25-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to receiver Alshon Jeffery with 10 seconds left in the first half looked good, too. So did his five total touchdowns.

McCown knows Cutler’s high-ankle sprain is getting better. Cutler returned to practice last week, albeit in limited fashion, but it was his first action since he suffered the injury Nov. 10 against the Detroit Lions.

‘‘I see his progress and monitor that,’’ McCown said. ‘‘I understand every week if my number is called, I’ve got to be ready to go. And that’s how it’s been. Right now, I just serve my team the way that I’ve said before — just as a backup quarterback and being ready to go.’’

The Bears will do their best to squash any debate or perception of a quarterback controversy, especially while they’re still in the playoff race. They will stand by Cutler, all the while appreciating what McCown has accomplished in his playing time.

‘‘When [Cutler’s] good to go and can have a full week of practice, he’ll be our quarterback,’’ coach Marc Trestman said.

But the debate exists only because McCown has played so well. He was magnificent against the Cowboys, directing an offense that scored five touchdowns, made three field goals and didn’t punt once in the cold. The Cowboys’ defense might be bad, but he made it look putrid.

McCown completed 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards, a career-best four touchdowns and a 141.9 passer rating. And don’t forget he ran for that touchdown, too.

‘‘I thought he played an
excellent game,” Trestman said.

There used to be a notion — it was widely held before the season — that the Bears would implode if Cutler got hurt, that the same ugly struggles they went through with other backups would surface again.

But the Bears, especially Trestman, always had a sincere confidence in McCown. And it never wavered. McCown has rewarded their confidence in him and then some.

‘‘We really appreciate his leadership, what he’s been doing for us,’’ receiver Brandon Marshall said.

And that’s a lot.


Twitter: @adamjahns

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