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Jay Cutler leads Bears to win over Broncos

The former Denver quarterback throws for 144 yards and goes 15 for 21 as he is booed in his return to Invesco Field.

August 31, 2009|Associated Press

Jay Cutler got the last laugh.

The Pro Bowl quarterback, who forced a blockbuster trade out of Denver last spring and became the Chicago Bears' first franchise quarterback since Sid Luckman, returned to Invesco Field on Sunday night and led his new team to a 27-17 exhibition win over the Broncos.

Cutler disregarded the thousands of hecklers, including Broncos pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, in leading Chicago on three scoring drives, capped by a 12-play, 98-yarder just before halftime that gave the Bears a 17-3 lead.

The adversary he left behind, Broncos rookie Coach Josh McDaniels, had a distressing home debut, as did Denver's new quarterback, Kyle Orton, who gashed his right index finger to cut short a middling performance against his former team.

Cutler threw for 144 yards and a score in a crisp 15-for-21 performance before calling it a night at halftime and basking in the glow of his successful return to Invesco Field, where only eight months ago he was a beloved figure, a Pro Bowl passer and the heir apparent in Denver to Hall of Fame member John Elway.

Although fans came to jeer him, they also saw why they'll miss this immensely talented young quarterback.

"I thought it was going to be like this," Cutler said. "They got good fans here. A lot of boos -- they got pretty loud there at one point. It was what we kind of prepared for."

At one point on the Bears' 98-yard touchdown drive, the jeers turned to cheers when Dumervil blew past left tackle Orlando Pace for a third time and put a hit on Cutler after he had released the ball. The personal foul gave the Bears (2-1) a first down at the Denver 14, but the riled-up crowd didn't care.

Two plays later, Cutler feathered a six-yard pass to running back Matt Forte in the end zone.

After his follow-through on an incomplete pass before halftime, Orton glanced down at his bloody finger, held it up for the sideline to see and then trotted off the field.

McDaniels told NBC that Orton's finger wasn't broken but that more tests were needed.

Orton was 12 for 16 for 96 yards, but in half a dozen drives, he led the Broncos (0-3) to only a single field goal, not the kind of home debut he was anticipating after getting off to a rocky start in Denver.

Elsewhere

First-round draft pick Andre Smith signed a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, ending an impasse that dragged on a month into the preseason. The Bengals had planned to have Smith start at right tackle, but he has missed three exhibition games. Smith, the sixth overall pick, was the highest unsigned NFL pick with one week left in the preseason. The Bengals had insisted on paying him less than a player taken later in the draft, Oakland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, leading to the impasse. Smith's contract leaves Michael Crabtree, drafted by San Francisco with the 10th overall pick, as the only unsigned first-round selection. . . . Tedy Bruschi is retiring after a 13-year career marked by an inspiring return to the New England Patriots as a starting linebacker eight months after a stroke. A person familiar with his decision told the Associated Press that the 36-year-old Bruschi will announce his retirement at a news conference this morning. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made. The team declined to comment Sunday night.

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