Chicago Sun-Times

Tice, Martz, Cutler victimized by McCown's greatest hits

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Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz was guilty of inflating Josh McCown's resume a little bit when he said McCown has ''got some playing experience and won some big games.''

McCown hasn't won too many big games and hasn't even been in that many. The teams he played on in Arizona in 2002-05 were 5-11, 4-12, 6-10 and 5-11. The Raiders team he started on in 2007 was 4-12.

His biggest victory was more of a personal one than anything. In the final week of the regular season in 2003, McCown threw two touchdown passes in the final 1:54 -- including a 28-yarder to Nathan Poole on fourth-and-25 as time expired -- to eliminate Mike Tice's Minnesota Vikings from playoff contention with an 18-17 victory.

But not only that, the victory knocked the Cardinals from the No. 1 pick in the draft to No. 3. At No. 1, they were likely to take Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning. Instead, they took Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald at No. 3.

That not only saved McCown's starting job, but it gave him two of the best young receivers in football -- Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, a second-round pick (54th overall) in 2003.

With two Pro Bowl caliber receivers, McCown had what has turned out too be the best run of his nine-year NFL career. He was 9-10 as a starter in 2004 and 2005, with the two best season passer ratings of his career -- 74.1 and 74.9. He threw for 4,347 yards and 20 touchdowns in those two seasons.

Fitzgerald and Boldin combined for 164 receptions for 2,208 yards and 17 touchdowns in those two seasons -- and Boldin missed the first six games of the 2005 season. That was 43 percent of McCown's completions, 51 percent of his passing yards and 85 percent of his touchdown passes in that span.

But when it comes to big wins, perhaps Martz is still feeling the pain of a 31-7 loss to McCown and the Cardinals in Week 15 of 2004 that cost Martz's Rams the NFC West Division title. McCown accounted for four touchdowns in one of the games of his career that day -- he completed 22-of-34 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 110.8 passer rating. He also rushed for two touchdowns. (The Rams still qualified as a wild-card team at 8-8 and beat NFC West champion Seattle on the road in the playoffs the following week before losing to the Falcons in the divisional round.)

It still is the second-highest single-game passer rating in McCown's career. The best was with the Raiders in 2007, when McCown outplayed Jay Cutler in a 34-20 victory over the Broncos in Oakland. McCown completed 14-of-21 passes for 141 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 125.2 rating. Cutler's rating that day was 45.6 -- he was 16-of-32 for 214 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and one lost fumble.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on December 22, 2011 12:40 AM.

Vet McCown taking business-like approach vs. Packers was the previous entry in this blog.

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