When the Bears took over at their own 14 with :20 remaining after falling behind 17-14 last Sunday against the Seahawks, there was little doubt who quarterback Jay Cutler would look to.
Three of the team’s top four receivers were out with injuries and the last man standing, Brandon Marshall, has three times more receptions than any of his teammates this season.
Despite that certainty, Marshall was still able to haul in Cutler’s 56-yard heave, setting up Robbie Gould’s 46-yard field goal as time expired in regulation to force overtime.
Asked how he and Cutler have been able to connect with such regularity even though opponents know who the ball is going to, Marshall said: “We go where they’re not. It’s as simple as that.
“Jay gives me freedom out there and coach [Mike] Tice gives me freedom out there to adjust without our offense and our scheme. Jay is the type of quarterback where he has such a strong arm that it doesn’t have to be a rhythm throw all the time or timing.
“A lot of times he may read me or I may read a coverage and we’ll be on the same page. That’s the fun part about playing this offense is the freedom to adjust. It’s been clicking.”
Marshall ranks second in the NFL with 91 receptions and 1,182 yards. He’s on pace to shatter Bears single-season records with a career-high 121 catches and 1,576 yards.
Even though injuries to Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Alshon Jeffery have depleted the receiver position and forced the Bears to rely even more on Marshall, he’s fine with the extra workload.
“Especially this time of year, I want the pressure,” Marshall said. “We have four games left and our goals are still ahead of us, so if I can carry a larger load, I expect it. I’m prepared to do that. I expect to carry a bigger load this time of year and I actually want to pick up my play. However the team needs me moving forward I’ll be prepared and ready.”
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