Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been interception-free in four of his last five games, the first time he's accomplished that in the same season, and he has just six picks all year.
He said several things have factored into his efficient performances, including a higher comfort level behind an offensive line that has jelled in recent weeks. Cutler has been sacked just five times in the past four games, while Matt Forte has rushed for over 100 yards in four of the last six games, forcing defenses to focus their attention on him. But Cutler has done his part, too.
"Just being careful with the ball," he said. "We're changing some things up. I've got a really good feel for what we're doing offensively, the offensive line is playing better, and the way we're running the ball, we're getting a lot more single-high (one safety deep) defenses, which opens up some more lanes for us."
Cutler was less expansive when the topic turned to his "feud" with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, which dates to the 2007 season when Cutler was in his first year as a full-time starter with the Broncos and Rivers was a second-year starter.
They will face each other Sunday at 3:15 at Soldier Field when Rivers and the 4-5 Chargers battle Cutler and the 6-3 Bears.
"Where did the rivalry with Rivers start," Cutler was asked.
"I don't know," he said.
Was it that 2007 game late in the year (which a YouTube clip seems to indicate)?
"I don't remember," Cutler said.
Do you miss playing against him?
The two quarterbacks faced each other five times as starters in three years as AFC West rivals before Cutler was traded to the Bears. But they haven't played against each other since Dec. 28, 2008.
"It's something that's in the past," Cutler said. "He's a great player. He's still putting up big numbers. They're going to throw the ball down the field. Defensively, the way we are playing, hopefully we will shut him down."
Pressed on the current status of their relationship, which essentially is non-existent, Cutler said: "You got his number? We could call him."
Later in the afternoon on a conference call with Bears media, Rivers was informed that Cutler had inquired about his phone number and was asked if he'd like to pass it along.
"Probably not by way of you guys," an amused Rivers said. "We've spoken since then, whether it be at the coin toss or postgame. It wasn't as if we were big buddies beforehand and then had a big falling off. He and I had minimal conversations even before that all got blown way out of proportion."
While Cutler is on pace to establish a career low for interceptions in a season, Rivers leads the NFL with 15 picks, two more than he threw all of last season, when he had 30 touchdown passes and a 101.8 passer rating, his third straight season over 100. Since '07, when Cutler had an 88.1 passer rating and Rivers was at 82.4, the Chargers' quarterback has had significantly higher passer ratings (and a much more potent offense). That is, until the current season, in which Cutler has the higher rank, 84.4-80.2.
More important, Cutler's Bears are 6-3, while Rivers' Chargers are 4-5, which Rivers said is what really matters.
"I have nothing against Jay," he said. "I think he's a heck of a player, and one thing you know about him, he's a super competitor. One thing he's doing right now is he's leading his team to win four in a row, and I'm fighting like crazy just to try to get a win."
Traditionally that is when the Chargers have been most dangerous.
"They're notorious for some slow starts and finishing extremely strong," Cutler said. "The way that Philip leads that team, they're going to be ready to play."
Feud, what feud?
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