The Bears received bad news after extending their winning streak to five, as QB Jay Cutler reportedly broke the thumb on his throwing hand.
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer first reported that Cutler had a broken thumb. The Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure reported that the fracture is in his throwing hand and tweeted that the Bears are preparing to move on without Cutler "for a while."
According to Mike Wright of ESPN Chicago, surgery is upcoming for Cutler and the injury may cost him the rest of the regular season. Per McClure, the injury will sideline Cutler for 6-8 weeks, but the team doesn't plan to put him on injured reserve.
Cutler completed 18-of-31 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's win over the Chargers. For the second time in the last three weeks, Cutler was not sacked.
He has thrown 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.
The Bears' backup quarterback is Caleb Hanie, who most memorably stepped in for Cutler in the second half of last season's NFC Championship game against the Packers. He completed 13-of-20 passes for 153 yards, a touchdown and two picks in the loss. Hanie has played in two games this season, but has not thrown a pass.
The Bears are tied with the Lions behind the Packers in the NFC North and are in the lead for one of the two wild-card spots in the NFC.
The way we see it
Losing Cutler would be a devastating blow to the Bears, who have been one of the best teams in the league over the last five weeks. Cutler has shown his toughness during the streak and played some of the best football of his career at times.
Hanie, a fourth-year veteran, has never started a game, and defenses will focus even more on bottling up Matt Forté with Hanie under center.
The Bears only have two teams that currently have winning records remaining on their schedule — the Packers and Raiders. They also play the Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks and Vikings. That schedule looked very manageable before the news of Cutler's injury, but making the postseason with Hanie at quarterback is going to be a tremendous challenge.