Jay Cutler has taken his share of criticism for his toughness and commitment, but his wide receiver had his back after a teeth-rattling sack by Ndamukong Suh in the Chicago Bears’ 13-7 victory over the Detroit Lions on Monday night.
Cutler was replaced by Jason Campbell after the hit, which came just before the end of the first half, then came back for a third-down throw. He spent the last possession of the half in the locker room, but was back for the second half. Brandon Marshall had words of advice for Suh, who has been fined and suspended in the past for his play. And, it turns out, Lawrence Jackson had his teammate’s back.
There’s a fairly vigorous debate over the legality of a hit that USA Today’s Chris Chase called a “WWE-like takedown.” Fifty-seven percent of voters in a Pro Football Talk poll deemed it clean, as did Cutler, Bears Coach Lovie Smith and Fox’s Mike Pereira. As Chase said, “Yes, he put a little oomph into the landing, but what do you want him to do?Grab a pillow and ease him gently to the turf?”
Cutler called it “a football play” and Suh said Cutler said he was good when Suh asked after his health immediately after the hit. “I can’t control my momentum,” Suh said. “Especially at that high speed. I’m chasing him. He’s running away from me.” The two do, though, share a little history. Suh was flagged and fined $15,000 for a December 2010 forearm hit on Cutler. Last year, Suh separated Cutler from his helmet on a play.
Cutler has drawn criticism for his attitude over the years, from the time he stood around on the sideline during the 2011 NFC Championship Game after hurting his knee to pushing a teammate earlier this year to the perception that he isn’t tough. No one was saying any of that Monday night.
“I thought I was gone. Then he got a hold of me,” Cutler said (via ESPN Chicago). “From that point, I knew it wasn’t gonna end well.”
Cutler hurt his ribs on the play, but was not fitted for a flak jacket.
“I feel all right right now. I think probably later in the week it’s gonna be a little difficult,” Cutler said. “[The injury] was on the right side. So trying to get my right side through was a little bit tough. I missed some throws, wasn’t exactly feeling 100 percent. But we had to kind of fight through it. The way our defense was playing, we were just trying to kind of drag out the game.”
H/T Big Lead Sports for the gif