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‘A special throw’ — Jay Cutler’s arm amazes coordinator

The man who’d spent the last three years with Peyton Manning had never seen a throw like the one Jay Cutler launched Sunday.

Backpedaling away from a Chiefs blitz, the Bears quarterback rifled the ball off the wrong foot at the 31-yard line and toward Marquess Wilson, who’d run a corner route down the left sideline and into the end zone.

The receiver was double-covered, but neither defender had a chance at the ball as it fell into his outstretched arms just in time to get two feet in bounds.

It was gorgeous.

“That was a first for me, to see somebody retreat from a free blitzer and then put it where he put it, and with the touch he put it with,” offensive coordinator Adam Gase said Thursday. “That was special throw. I don’t think there’s a lot of guys who can make that one.”

Gase never saw Manning — for whom he was a quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator in Denver — do quite the same thing.

“I guess in that situation, where they brought everybody, and to throw it that far and to that tight of a window, I guess we never really were put in a situation like that, where he had to do something like that,” he said.

The 22-yard score, with 3:05 left, was the first of two touchdowns the Bears scored in a frenzied rally to beat the Chiefs.

It was more than a spark, though — it was a reminder that, for all his well-documented flaws, Cutler can throw a football like few people on the planet.

“That was basically like threading the needle — from 40 yards away,” running back Matt Forte said.

That’s why coaches have fallen in love with Cutler, isn’t it? He might have the strongest arm in the game, but the failure of the quarterback to harness it cost four offensive coordinators their jobs in the six years before Gase’s arrival.

He’s still inconsistent. Before the touchdown pass, the Bears’ offense — albeit with a makeshift offensive line and missing three projected starters at receiver — had scored only six points. Cutler played a spotty first half and missed easy throws in the third quarter.

“And then when we got in the fourth quarter, we had nothing else to lose,” Cutler said.

Since Cutler returned from a hamstring strain in Game 5 after missing only a game-and-and-a-half, the Bears have won two-straight.

“Dealing with victories is sometimes harder than dealing with losses,” said Cutler, who anticipates being more mobile Sunday in Detroit. “You feel like you’ve arrived a little bit.

“But I think with this team, we’re not there yet. Everyone knows we’re not there yet. …

“Obviously, there’s going to be a little bit more confidence because of two wins, but I think everybody’s feet are still in the ground.”

Cutler’s arm strength is apparent to anyone with eyes, but it’s been everything but that has surprised Gase.

“I didn’t know how competitive he was,” Gase said. “That’s something that has really jumped out at me, how the toughness of coming back from this injury and playing as well as he has, that’s something that I love to see.

“I know our coaching staff really loved it. And I think his teammates appreciated the fact that he battled back to help our team try to pull some victories out.”

BOX
Three throws
For every ill-timed interception this season, Jay Cutler has made an improbable throw. Here are our three favorites:

To Marquess
With an Chiefs extra pass rusher forcing him backward, Cutler threw a perfect ball to Marquess Wilson, whose corner route came out of a ‘trips’ receiver set to the left, for a 22-yard touchdown.

The Fumble
Sunday’s game-winner came after Cutler dropped the snap, picked it up, and looked left. Forte ran a wheel route after on a rub-route combination —Marquess Wilson essentially screened Forte’s defender — and caught a seven-yard score.

To Martellus
On fourth-and-five from their own 25, Cutler found tight end Martellus Bennett on an out route against the Raiders’ man coverage. The seven-yard completion produced get a first down and sparked a drive that ended in Robbie Gould’s 49-yard, game-winning field goal.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley
Email: pfinley@suntimes.com