Chicago won its fifth game in a row defeating the reeling San Diego Chargers 31-20 on Sunday. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 286 yards, two touchdowns and added another one running.
But Chicago Bear fans should be most proud of their QB for not making a big play, but preventing one in the 4th quarter against the Chargers.
After trying to complete a pass to wide receiver Johnny Knox, Knox slipped and cornerback Antoine Cason intercepted the ball at the Chargers 20 yard-line. Cason returned the interception 64 yards before Bears runner Matt Forte shoved him out of bounds. Cutler also helped make the tackle by pushing Cason with his right hand. Then, Charger lineback Donald Butler knocked Cutler to the ground with the QB's throwing hand exposed.
Cutler believes his thumb injury occurred on this play.
He could have easily given up on the play. Arguably, the interception wasn't his fault because his receiver fell. The Bears had a comfortable lead, so it may not have even impacted the game. But, Cutler is a football player first. Players who shy away from contact, given or taken, have been known to be called "yellow-belly" around the league no matter what position they play. Cutler didn't shy away; he took on two blockers before Forte arrived in time to make the tackle.
Other video footage
, however, shows Cutler shaking his right hand maybe because of an irritated thumb as early as the second quarter.
Either way, Cutler not only proved his heart as a complete football player, but then proved his toughness again by not leaving the game. He finished the game completing two more passes after the interception as the Bears held on to win. The quarterback received so much heat last season when he left the NFC Championship game early because of injury.
Bears coach Lovie Smith announced Monday that Cutler would need surgery to repair his thumb. That would leave Chicago without their star quarterback for six to eight weeks. Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher almost wishes Cutler wouldn't have tried to make the tackle.
“That’s a huge play in the game,” Urlacher said according to YahooSports
. “Probably a 10-point swing right there, with him making that play. I wish he wouldn’t have made it, I’ll tell you that much. I’d take it back right now, let the guy score, because we still got the lead. It was 31-27 if he scores. It was a great play by him to keep him out of the end zone and the effort he made on the play, but like I said, we’d trade it for a touchdown right now.”
As much as Cutler's injury might hurt the Bears playoff chances
, he did the right thing. Football players must play football and that includes tackling the man with the ball.
Smith thinks Cutler could return by the end of the season. The Bears play the Vikings on Januray 1st for their regular season finale. A return then would be just in time for a Super Bowl run.