He popped up after that landing, and the Chicago Bears eventually took off, too. They weren't about to let a Lions win streak get off the ground.
Cutler threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, and the Bears pulled away in the second half to beat the Lions 48-24 on Sunday a week after Detroit snapped its 19-game slide.
His 5-yard dash early on sparked images of Elway's highlight reel run against Green Bay in the Super Bowl, yet Cutler dismissed the comparison to a legendary predecessor in Denver.
"If I could have just dove in there nice and quietly, I would have," Cutler said.
Instead, he had to earn it. So did the Bears.
The Lions were celebrating a victory over Washington that snapped a slide that matched the second-longest in league history a week earlier. This time, they were holding their breath after watching quarterback Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 draft pick, twist his right knee while being sacked in the fourth quarter.
"It just kind of slid out," said Stafford.
The Lions had a third down on the Bears 6 when Stafford was sacked by Adewale Ogunleye, forcing Detroit to kick a field goal that cut Chicago's lead to 34-24. Stafford had his leg wrapped and Daunte Culpepper replaced him on Detroit's next drive, a sobering sight for a team that has taken its share of blows over the years.
Stafford suffered a subluxation of his right knee in which his knee cap popped out of its normal position but popped back in, a Lions source told ESPN's Chris Mortensen. A series of X-rays and MRIs will determine if Stafford damaged any cartilage around the knee cap, but sources said such an injury is not normally a season-ender.
One medical source even suggested that Stafford could play next week with a brace, but that will be determined by the pain and stability of the knee. He also could miss a week or longer, pending more comprehensive tests.
Detroit's Calvin Johnson caught eight passes for 133 yards -- all but 14 of them in the first half, when he ran by Zack Bowman. The Bears put Charles Tillman on him in the second half and that helped before Johnson left late in the game with a leg injury but the nature and severity wasn't immediately known.
With a chance to put together consecutive wins for the first time since 2007, the Lions hung in for a half before Chicago (3-1) pulled away.
"I guess we've got to get punched in the face a couple times to realize we're in a fight," defensive end Ogunleye said.
A punch in the face was how the second half felt to the Lions. Coach Jim Schwartz called it "one of the worst" he's seen.
"We were poor on special teams, we were poor on offense, we were poor on defense, we were outcoached, we were outplayed, their trainers were probably better than ours in the second half," he said. "So credit goes to them."
Not that the Bears didn't also absorb some pain.
Devin Hester left with a shoulder injury in the second quarter and Knox injured his right shin in the second half, leaving them thin at wide receiver. Before he left the game, Knox did a spot-on impression of Hester when he ran 102 yards untouched up the right side to open the third quarter for the second-longest kickoff return in franchise history.
Forte broke off a 61-yard run that set up Chicago's first touchdown and added a 37-yard TD in the fourth quarter.
Robbie Gould kicked two field goals, including a career-high 52-yarder in the third quarter, and Tommie Harris set up an early touchdown with his first career interception and his first since "1982," he joked.
Stafford threw for 296 yards, but Detroit still hasn't put together consecutive wins since a 6-2 start in 2007.
Coach Rod Marinelli was let go at the end of last season after going 0-16. He's now the Bears' defensive line coach, and with 31 new players, he could be excused if he didn't recognize the team on the other side of the field.
What happened early had a familiar feel, though.
The Bears got off to another slow start, just as they did the first three games.
Cutler's wild flight to the end zone after a 61-yard dash by Forte was one bright -- and a little scary -- spot.
Hester was apparently injured after catching a short pass on second down with just under 12 minutes left. He tried to juke the Lions' Louis Delmas and William James, but instead took a hard hit. He quickly got up showing no obvious signs of an injury, and it wasn't clear which shoulder he hurt.
"We know how to finish a game. We need to start stronger and faster and all of that," coach Lovie Smith said. "But I'm proud of how the guys finished the game."
Knox's kickoff return was second to Gale Sayers' 103-yarder at Pittsburgh on Sept. 17, 1967. ... Bears RB and special teams player Adrian Peterson left in the first quarter with a right knee injury. ... The Bears were without LBs Hunter Hillenmeyer (rib) and Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee). ... The Lions held out defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill because of an ankle injury and defensive end Dewayne White with a hamstring injury.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN.