It was a rough day for Illinois sports fans on Sunday as they were swept by Wisconsin teams. As if it wasn’t enough for the Northwestern basketball team to lose by 32 points to the Wisconsin Badgers, they lost in a heart-breaker 21-14 to division-rival Green Bay Packers. The latter loss is assuredly the toughest to swallow as it ends the Bears’ season and the chance to play in the 2011 Super Bowl.
By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta
Heading into halftime, the Packers led the Bears 14-0. Jay Cutler and the Bears offense were unable to move the ball into Packer territory in the first half. Cutler was constantly harassed by the blitzing 3-4 scheme. To add insult to injury, literally, Cutler hurt his knee in the final minute of the first half. He returned in the second half for only one series before leaving for the rest of the game.
This left Bears fans, and quite frankly everyone else, watching in udder disbelief as back-up QB Todd Collins took the field. This was the same Todd Collins who threw 5 interceptions in his only two games of action this season. After two series, and two near interceptions, Collins was replaced by third-string QB Caleb Hanie. By rule, once a team puts in their third QB of the game, the starting QB can no longer re-enter the game.
For Hanie, who was playing in basically his first game of his career, to play the way he did in one of the biggest games in Bears history was quite impressive. Sure, he threw a costly pick-six to DT B.J. Raji (worth another look) and threw the game-ending interception to CB Sam Shields, but he provided a spark that was not there in the first half.
While Hanie played well considering the circumstances, Bears fans won’t accept that as any consolation. Immediately following the game, many people, including current NFL players, brought Cutler’s toughness into question.
Cardinal’s Darnell Dockett tweeted, “If I’m on chicago team jay cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room!”
Jaguars running back also tweeted, “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee… I played the whole season on one…”
In defense of his quarterback, Bears captain Brian Urlacher responded, “Nothing like jealous people who are sitting home watching. Players around the league you said, right? Yeah, love jealous people when they’re watching our game on TV while their season is over.”
Urlacher also added, “Jay was hurt. I don’t question his toughness. He’s tough as hell. He’s one of the toughest guys on our football team.”
Cutler, who is believed to have suffered a torn MCL on his left knee, is set to have an MRI on Monday. If Cutler’s injury is anything less than a tear, let’s just say I wouldn’t come within 100 miles of Chicago for a long time if I were him.
Justin Mertes-Mistretta is a senior editor for the Sports Bank.net mainly covering the NFL, NBA playoffs, college basketball (Ohio State), and fantasy football. Follow him on twitter at MertesMist_tsb or become a fan of his blog here.