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Gutsy effort exactly what Bears expect from Cutler

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Dan Parr
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Posted Oct. 23, 2012 @ 3 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

CHICAGO — Nothing was dirty about the play that left Jay Cutler writhing in pain Monday night.

Bears head coach Lovie Smith said so himself after Chicago’s 13-7 win, which was highlighted by another stellar defensive effort by the Bears and Cutler’s return from an injury to the ribs on the right side of his body courtesy of a second-quarter sack by Lions DT Ndamukong Suh.

“That’s football,” Smith said of Suh’s hit on Cutler. “No one is trying to hurt anyone or anything like that out there. It was just a tough hard-nosed game. Suh’s a good football player. He’s playing hard trying to win the game.”

Cutler played hard and hurt for most of Monday night. It did not look good for the Bears or Cutler as trainers tended to him on the field after Suh drove him into the ground.

Bears fans had been through the drill before. In each of the past two seasons, a Cutler injury has effectively ended Chicago’s season.

Cutler didn’t stay down Monday night, though. He ran off the field and returned to the game after missing only one play, but there was doubt about his status again when he went to the locker room before the first half had ended.

He took nearly the full 12-minute halftime before running out of the tunnel to rejoin his teammates for the start of the third quarter.

Cutler left out the details of whatever the medical staff did to get him back on the field for the second half, but he admitted the injury made for a difficult second half.

“I missed some throws,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling exactly 100 percent but we had to fight through it. The way our defense was playing, we were just trying to drag out the game.”

Despite the injury, Cutler missed only five plays. He completed 16-of-31 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown vs. Detroit, but that number — five — should be the one that is remembered because it outweighed anything else he did statistically Monday night.

“He’s just that, he’s a tough guy,” Smith said. “Most people thought Jay would get up. Unless it’s a broken leg or something like that, he’s going to get back up. He is a tough guy. That’s what you should have as your Chicago Bear quarterback. He does it time after time. That was a gutsy effort by him. He was in some pain, but he fought through it.”

If there is anyone out there foolish enough to continue to question whether Cutler is tough or not, Monday night was only the latest evidence to fly in the face of a theory that has always been inaccurate.

The defense that carried the Bears on Monday night was far from surprised to see Cutler battle through the discomfort, and anyone who has watched him play behind an offensive line that has allowed a league-high 140 sacks over the past three seasons should have felt the same way.

“Jay’s a leader,” DT Henry Melton said. “A lot of people don’t get to see it behind the scenes, but he’s just a leader. I knew he was going to get back up and go back out there. I saw he came to the sideline, threw one ball, warmed it up and he ran back out there.”

It was only a month ago that Cutler was being skewered for his sideline demeanor in what is still Chicago’s only loss — a Week Two clunker at Green Bay. Monday night offered a completely different picture of a quarterback that has quickly put that four-interception nightmare at Lambeau Field behind him.

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