Little did us Bears fans know that when rookie Denver Bronco punter Britton Colquitt stuck the Bears at their own two yard line with 5:20 left in the first half, that we were about to get a glimpse of something special. A snippet of what we hope will be a common occurrence. Our franchise QB doing what he does, marching the offense down the field in a methodical and precise manner.
Sure there have been long drives before, and even much more meaningful drives (this was the preseason after all), but given the circumstances, and considering the hostile environment, it was as big a drive as we've seen in a long time.
Twelve plays for 98 yards, in five minutes and seven seconds, ending with a six yard TD pass to Matt Forte. It was a thing of beauty...
Play 1) (5:20) 1st and 10 from the Chicago 2 - Matt Forte up the middle for a 2 yard gain.
It was the expected call given the field position. I was guessing they'd just look for some breathing room then punt it away.
I was surprised by the play, I was thinking another Forte run... Bears call their 2nd timeout with 4:36 remaining in the first half.
Play 3) (4:36) 3rd and 8 from the Chicago 4 - Cutler pass complete to Earl Bennett over the middle for a 16 yard gain.
This was a big time throw and catch. Bennett was covered by one of the best corners in the game, Champ Bailey, but Bennett rose up and secured the ball. First down. With some room to operate I was hoping for the offense to get clicking.
Play 4) (3:58) 1st and 10 from the Chicago 20 - Forte runs 5 yards, but the play is negated due to his illegal shift (no play)
A penalty! Damn! It was one of 7 on the night, but Denver had 10.
Play 4) (3:27) 1st and 15 from the Chicago 15 - Cutler pass complete to Greg Olsen near the right hash for 21 yards.
Cutler throws an absolute strike to a slanting Olsen. Olsen, at 6'5" & 252 pounds, is such a tough cover for any defender he gets on his back.
Play 5) (2:53) 1st and 10 from the Chicago 36 - Forte to the right for a 1 yard gain.
Time is starting to become a factor, I was wondering where the sense of urgency was.
Play 6) (2:11) 2nd and 9 from the Chicago 37 - Cutler pass complete to Olsen for 15 yards.
This was a money catch. After taking the shotgun snap, Cutler was flushed to his right and he delivered a bullet to Olson who reached slightly high and behind, squeezes it and holds on while getting mauled by Brian Dawkins. Denver challenges the catch, but Ed Hochuli confirms the reception. Two-Minute Warning.
Play 7) (2:00) 1st and 10 from the Denver 48 - Cutler short pass completion to Desmond Clark for a gain of 5, however offsetting penalties negate the play. (no play)
Cutler is in a groove now, penalty or no penalty. Denver calls their final timeout.
Play 7) (1:47) 1st and 10 from the Denver 48 - Cutler pass short left to Aromashodu for an 8 yard gain.
Has Aromashodu done enough to stick on the roster?
Play 8) (1:20) 2nd and 2 from the Denver 40 - Cutler throws incomplete, pass intended for Aromashodu.
This was a laser. D.A. wasn't able to make the catch, but it was a throw that only Cutler could make.
Play 9) (1:12) 3rd and 2 from the Denver 40 - Cutler pass to the left complete to Devin Hester for 11 yards.
Hester getting in on the fun!
Play 10) (:40) 1st and 10 from the Denver 29 - Cutler pass incomplete intended for Hester. Roughing the passer on Elvis Dumervil. (no play)
Play 10) (:37) 1st and 10 from the Denver 14 - Cutler complete to Bennett for 8 yards. Chicago takes their last timeout with :24 seconds remaining.
OK, no timeouts left, I'm expecting a couple fades to Olsen.
Play 11) (:24) 2nd and 2 from the Denver 6 - Incomplete pass from Cutler attempting to hit Bennett.
What no fade?
Play 12) (:19) 3rd and 2 from the Denver 6 - TD Pass, Cutler to Forte.
The booth elected to review the spectacular catch, but no no no, catch upheld. Cutler again rolled to his right and delivered the ball where only Forte could make a play. Good throw, good catch, touchdown.
And with seconds left in the half, Jay Cutler gets the final word with the Denver faithful. Shhh... On the drive he hit 5 different receivers (6 if you count the negated play to Clark) and he was 7 of 10 for 85 of the 98 yards. I can't wait for week 1.
For those of you expecting my latest entry for the Positional Battles series, tune in tomorrow at 11am for linebackers, then Thursday at 11am for my look at the defensive backs.