After eight seasons, the Chicago Bears appear on the verge of parting ways with their all-time leading passer, Jay Cutler. As a regular figure in the NFL's longest-running rivalry, Cutler's pending departure marks an important milestone for the Green Bay Packers as well as the NFC North. Over the next few days, Acme Packing Company will review Cutler’s time in the division from a number of perspectives.
Jay Cutler has faced the Green Bay Packers a total of 14 times in his NFL career, and his tenure with the Chicago Bears can be broken down into a few distinct periods. The first comprises his first two seasons in Chicago, which consisted of five games against the Bears’ oldest rivals.
As we break down Cutler’s early time in Chicago, we also will take a quick look back at the one game he played against the Packers as a member of the Denver Broncos, in large part because it was a memorable game for reasons not related to Cutler.
2007, Week 8
Cutler spent three years in Denver after being drafted by the Broncos in 2006, and in that time he played just one game against the Green Bay Packers. Cutler had a decent enough game in week eight of his second season, completing 21 of 34 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown.
However, Cutler’s solid game was greatly overshadowed by Brett Favre, who threw for two touchdowns of 70-plus yards. The second scoring pass was an 82-yard bomb to Greg Jennings on the first play from scrimmage of overtime, giving the Packers a 19-13 victory.
2009, Week 1
This was the first game Cutler played after his trade to Chicago. What better way for Cutler to kick off his Bears career than with a prime time game at Lambeau Field against the Packers?
This game almost certainly started the narrative of Cutler’s struggles against the Packers, as he completed less than 50% of his passes and threw a whopping four interceptions. Two of them were in Packers’ territory, including a hilarious pick by Johnny Jolly inside the red zone (click here for video). He also nearly got pick-sixed by Tramon Williams, and after Aaron Rodgers connected with Greg Jennings on a go-ahead 50-yard touchdown, Cutler threw one final interception to Al Harris with seconds left on the clock to seal the deal on a 21-15 Packers win.
2009, Week 14
Late that same season, Cutler doubled his touchdown total and halved his interceptions from the first game that year, but that still resulted in a total of 2 of each. This time, his picks came first early in the game and then in the early part of the fourth quarter.
The second interception happened with the Bears up 14-13, as safety Nick Collins hauled in a football and returned it to the five-yard line. Two plays later, the Packers took the lead on a Ryan Grant touchdown run. Green Bay held on for a 21-14 victory on their way to a Wild-Card berth in the playoffs.
2010, Week 3
Cutler was finally able to be on the winning side in a game against the Packers early in the 2010 season, when the Bears won at Soldier Field 20-17. This game saw Cutler lead a fourth-quarter comeback, as the Packers took a 17-14 lead with about seven minutes left.
However, the comeback almost didn’t happen - Cutler threw two interceptions on his team’s two field goal drives in the fourth quarter that tied and then won the game, but both times the Bears were bailed out by defensive penalties against Packers players. First, Nick Barnett’s pick was canceled out by a Frank Zombo roughing the passer call, and then after James Jones fumbled the football, a Nick Collins pick inside the red zone was wiped away by a pass interference flag on Morgan Burnett.
In this game, the Bears won largely in spite of Cutler, as their one second-half touchdown came on a Devin Hester punt return. Jay’s final stat line was 16 of 27 for 221 yards, one touchdown, and an interception.
2010, Week 17
The Packers needed a victory to find a way into the playoffs, end of story. The Bears already had the NFC North locked up, with an opportunity to knock their oldest rival out of the postseason.
Instead, Cutler had an abysmal game, completing just 21 of 39 passes for 168 yards - fewer than five yards per attempt. He was harassed constantly by a ferocious Packers pass rush, taking six sacks and throwing a pair of interceptions. His first pick went to Charlie Peprah in the second quarter, then Nick Collins picked off Cutler at the Packers’ 11-yard line on a second-down heave with 20 seconds left in the game.
Collins’ pick sealed the Packers’ 10-3 victory at Lambeau Field, sending the Packers to the Wild Card round in Philadelphia. Three games later...
2010 NFC Championship Game
We’ll address this game in its own post coming up later this week, as it deserves a full treatment on its own. But you know the story - the Packers win and go on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV for their 13th NFL championship.