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Cutler leads Bears over Broncos in Denver return

Pat Graham
AP Sports Writer
Denver, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado – Heckled and harassed by a hostile crowd, Jay Cutler silenced the jeers the best way he knew how – with his powerful right arm.

The Chicago quarterback played the role of villain to perfection in his return to Invesco Field, leading the Bears team to a 27-17 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.

“This isn’t your everyday situation,” Cutler said.

Far from it.

Cutler had a very public spat with new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels after Cutler decided he didn’t want to play for him anymore. The rift came to a halt on April 2 when the Broncos dealt Cutler to Chicago for Kyle Orton and a handful of picks.

Now, Cutler is more interested in putting the past behind him.

The crowd, though, wasn’t about to let him forget, taunting him the entire game.

“We knew coming into this it was going to be a hostile environment, which was good,” said Cutler, who threw for 144 yards and a touchdown. “It’s good preparation for us.”

The louder he was booed, the more he bore down. That’s what running back Matt Forte noticed in the huddle.

“He was calm, and kept everyone else calm,” Forte said.

After Cutler led the Bears on a 12-play, 98-yard drive just before halftime, he pumped his fist in exhilaration, almost a “take that” sort of gesture.

So, was it?

“I think any quarterback is going to be happy with that,” Cutler said. “To go 98 yards in this league is hard.”

Not to mention in a place like Denver, where the Pro Bowler once was viewed as the next coming of Hall of Famer John Elway. It certainly made an impression on defensive lineman Tommie Harris.

“Jay is Mr. Consistent,” Harris said. “He looked good out there. We’re just fortunate to have him in our orange and blue.”

Cutler’s performance may make those fans deriding him Sunday wish he was still wearing the Broncos’ orange and blue.

“It went well,” Cutler said of his return. “It was a little bit weird – different locker room, different sideline. But that’s how it goes. I love where I’m at in Chicago. I think we’re heading in the right direction offensively.”

Meanwhile, the Broncos are searching for answers for their lackluster offense. They lost Orton after he cut his right index finger on a helmet late in the second quarter.

Orton immediately looked down at his bloody finger, showed it to the sideline and then trotted off the field. He was taken to the locker room, his night finished.

As for how long he might be out, McDaniels wouldn’t elaborate, saying only “I’m not going to talk about that or the extent of it yet.”

The team already is missing backup Chris Simms after he sprained his ankle in a preseason game last week at Seattle.

“I’m going to work as hard as I can,” said Orton, who was 12 for 16 for 96 yards before suffering the gash on his finger. “I don’t know how long I will be out, but mentally I will be ready to go and I think physically I will be, too.”

Denver’s sputtering offense only generated Matt Prater’s 31-yard field goal in the first half. The team also was plagued by penalties (10) and turnovers (2).

With just one preseason game remaining – and the starters not expected to see a lot of time – the Broncos are running out of opportunities to shore up deficiencies.

“There are some things that we have got to get fixed reasonably quickly,” Orton said. “We have got to play better than we have been.”

McDaniels certainly wasn’t pleased with his offense, especially the long-yardage situations.

“Sloppy, certainly,” McDaniels said.

As for Cutler’s return to Denver, McDaniels summed it up succinctly.

“It’s over,” he said.

But he quickly added that wasn’t the focus – just a little extra drama.

“It was a great atmosphere to play in for our football team to try and get ready for the regular season,” McDaniels said. “He did some nice things for them and I’m sure he will have a good year out there in Chicago.”


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