1.24.2011

Jay Cutler under attack for leaving Bears' loss with knee injury

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The Chicago Bears defended QB Jay Cutler on Sunday after he came under withering criticism from fans, analysts and even fellow players for having left an NFC title game loss to the Green Bay Packers with a knee injury.

Cutler exited the game, with the Bears trailing 14-0, early in the third quarter. He remained on the sidelines, spending some of the remainder of the game looking sullen in a seat on the bench and some of it standing on the sideline.
Third-stringer Caleb Hanie rallied the Bears in a game they would eventually lose 21-14, but some fans took out their frustration on Cutler by burning his jersey in the parking lots outside Soldier Field.

Fellow NFL players questioned Cutler's toughness on Twitter during the game, and ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl-winning QB Trent Dilfer called him out after the game.

"You can play this position (QB) hurt," Dilfer said on ESPN. "Some of us have."

Cutler said he hurt his knee late in the second quarter and said he was unable to play effectively after trying just after halftime. (Video of Cutler's remarks below.)

"We gave it a go in that first series," Cutler said, "but couldn't plant and throw, so ..."

Players such as Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew and Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett suggested on Twitter that Cutler had let his teammates down.

But Bears LB Brian Urlacher rejected those who would question Cutler.

"Jay was hurt," Urlacher said.. "I don't question his toughness. He's one of the toughest guys on our — he's tough as hell. He's one of the toughest guys on our football team. He doesn't bitch, he doesn't complain when he gets hit, he goes out there and plays his ass off every Sunday, practices every day.
"So, no, we don't question his toughness."

Bears coach Lovie Smith said there was no hesitation to pull Cutler after officials determined his knee was too sore to play. He appeared to grow agitated by repeated questions about Cutler's status.

"He hurt his knee, and he was out," Smith said. "There's nothing else for me to tell you on that."

The Packers earned a berth in the Super Bowl with the 21-14 win. Before exiting, Cutler was 6-for-14 for 80 yards with an INT. He was sacked twice.

Cutler could not identify on which play he was hurt, and said he hoped surgery would not be needed.

He said it was a "lonely feeling" sitting on the bench in the second half while first Todd Collins and then Hanie replaced him.

Asked if he was disappointed when the decision to lift him was made, Cutler said, "I knew that it was probably better that I didn't."

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