Bears Run To Super Bowl Falls Short


CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago Bears were rallying behind a young quarterback, forcing the Green Bay Packers to sweat out what looked like an easy win with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

No, it wasn’t Jay Cutler leading the charge.

The quarterback with the rocket arm was off target and out of sync even before he left with a knee injury, and the Bears couldn’t overcome a sluggish start in dropping the NFC championship game 21-14 to rival Green Bay at Soldier Field.

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“It’s a lonely feeling,” said Cutler, who sat out most of the second half. “Go through training camp and everything else and get to this point and have an opportunity to get in the Super Bowl, it’s hard.”

It looked like offensive coordinator Mike Martz simply ran out of tricks against Dom Capers’ defense before third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie led a fourth-quarter comeback bid.

Then again, what could Martz do with his starter like performing like this?

Not since high school had Cutler led a winning team, and in his first NFC championship game, he forced passes, threw off his back foot and wound up going 6 for 14 for 80 yards and an interception. It was a sharp contrast from the previous game against Seattle, when Cutler joined Otto Graham as the only quarterbacks to throw for two touchdowns and run for two in a playoff game.

This time?

He was on the sideline after the opening drive in the second half with an unspecified knee injury and the Bears trailing 14-0. Todd Collins came in and the Bears went nowhere, so in came Hanie.

Cutler said the injury happened on the Bears’ final possession of the second quarter before he threw an interception. He played the rest of the half and tried to go back in the third, but aggravated it.

“We gave it a go that first series but I couldn’t really plant and throw, so they kind of pulled me,” said Cutler, who’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday.

He was asked what he was told by his coaches when he couldn’t return and said: “I knew that it was probably better that I didn’t. I knew my knee, I know my body.”

Veteran center Olin Kreutz said he saw Cutler’s knee shaking when he returned to the huddle after taking a hit to the outside of his leg and knew the quarterback was in trouble. He was surprised, actually, that Cutler stayed in the game and even more stunned when he came out for the third quarter.

“It was shaking right after he took the hit and walked back into the huddle,” Kreutz said. “It was swinging. I knew that one of his ligaments probably went.”

With Cutler on the sideline, the Soldier Field crowd grew even more quiet and the injury prompted unkind speculation from other players on their Twitter pages.

Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew wrote: “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee … I played the whole season on one.”

And this from Deion Sanders: “Im telling u in the playoffs u must drag me off the field. All the medicine in pro lockerooms this dude comes out! I apologize bear fans! . . . Folks i never question a players injury but i do question a players heart.”

Cutler’s teammates don’t.

“He doesn’t complain when he gets hit,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “He goes out there and plays his (expletive) off every Sunday, he practices every single day, so no, we don’t question his toughness.”

Kreutz lashed out at the critics, saying, Maybe they should shut up.”

As for losing Cutler, he said, “It deflates you. … You’re very deflated when you first hear it, and then you get going.”

The Bears didn’t get going under the seldom-used Collins. He lasted two possessions before third-stringer Hanie came on and that’s when it got interesting.

An undrafted free agent out of Colorado State in 2008, he led the Bears to two fourth-quarter touchdowns but also got picked off twice. B.J. Raji returned the first 18 yards for a touchdown, and Sam Shields sealed the win with an interception in the final minute.

These teams had met 181 times and never had the stakes been higher. Only once had they played in the postseason, with the Bears winning at Wrigley Field in 1941, a week after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The odds that the Bears would even reach the playoffs this year seemed slim at best after they dropped three of four before their off week – an ominous sign for coach Lovie Smith, who was given orders to improve or else by ownership before the season. They were 4-3 and Cutler was getting knocked around like a human tackling dummy, but they used their time off well.

The Bears committed to the run and won seven of eight before dropping the regular-season finale at Green Bay.

Along the way, Cutler seemed to answer critics who questioned whether he was capable of leading a winner. His teammates stuck by him, too.

“We really have nothing to hang our heads about,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “Hats off to the Packers, they’ll represent the NFC very well. Next year, the Chicago Bears will have their day.”

Aaron Rodger wasn’t even at his best and, still, he was better than the first, the second and the third quarterback used in vain by the Chicago Bears against their bitter rivals.

Rodgers ran for a score and made a TD-saving tackle in leading the Green Bay Packers into the Super Bowl.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Rodgers said. “I’m at a loss for words.”

Rodgers played well enough to keep the Bears off balance all afternoon, Green Bay punter Tim Masthay kept Devin Hester under wraps and the Packers’ superb defense took care of the rest in knocking the Bears out of the playoffs.

It was the 182nd meeting in the league’s most historic feud, and the stakes had never been bigger.

Now the Packers (13-6) are headed to Dallas. And no matter what happens in the Super Bowl on Feb. 6, the Packers and their fans hold ultimate bragging rights over their foes to the south.

Green Bay will play the Pittsburgh Steelers, who topped the New York Jets 24-19 in the AFC championship game. The Packers opened as 2 1/2-point favorites for the game at Cowboys Stadium.

“We made a play to win the game and that’s all that matters,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. “Keep playing defense the way we know how, and it’s going to be tough for teams to beat us.”

All Jay Cutler could do was watch, having left the game with a knee injury early in the third quarter. Even before the injury, Cutler was having trouble moving the ball. Worse, he was getting booed by the home fans.

Primary backup Todd Collins replaced Cutler and was jeered even worse. Then little-known backup Caleb Hanie and the Bears (12-6) actually made it a game.

Chicago’s third-string quarterback rallied the Bears for a touchdown drive to cut the lead to 14-7 after Chester Taylor’s 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.

Hanie had a chance to tie the game after the Bears’ defense finally got a few stops, but threw a ball straight to Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji, who lumbered 18 yards into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Packers a 21-7 lead.

But Hanie wasn’t finished. He threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Earl Bennett to again cut the lead to seven points with 4:43 left.

The Bears forced a punt and got the ball back with under 3 minutes left. Hanie drove the Bears to the Green Bay 29-yard line, then threw a fourth-down interception to Sam Shields – the rookie’s second of the game.

Now all those Pro Bowl voters who didn’t think Rodgers was worthy can relax. They’re off the hook. Rodgers will be headed to the Super Bowl instead.

Rodgers proved ready for the biggest day of his brief but impressive career as the successor to Brett Favre, even if his final stat line didn’t look impressive after an ugly, hard-fought game.

He threw for 244 yards with two interceptions – a disappointment, given how well he had played lately. But his play in the first half was good enough to put the Bears in a two-touchdown hole, boggling a good defense that suddenly seemed to fall for every play-action fake.

Chicago was ready for a championship party under sunny skies and 20-degree temperatures, and went wild from the national anthem on. But Rodgers quieted them down quickly, marching the Packers on an opening drive then ended with Rodgers scrambling for a score.

The Bears went with a heavy dose of running back Matt Forte early on, with limited success.

Early in the second quarter, Brandon Jackson faked Brian Urlacher out for a long gain on a screen pass, and Rodgers’ pass to Jordy Nelson set up James Starks’ 4-yard touchdown run to give Green Bay a 14-0 lead.

It was the latest in a series of big moments for Rodgers, who has earned near-universal praise for the way he has played this season – especially since sitting out the Packers’ Dec. 19 loss at New England because of a concussion.

Rodgers has been on a hot streak ever since, and doing it under pressure. The Packers would have been out of the playoffs with a loss in either of their last two regular-season games, including the regular season finale against Chicago.

With the Packers leading 14-0 at halftime, Green Bay’s defense forced a three-and-out to begin the second half, and Rodgers went back to marching the Packers down the field.

With the Packers poised to put the game away, Rodgers instead tossed the ball to Urlacher on third-and-goal. He took off and ran down the Bears linebacker near midfield, barely preventing him from running it back for a touchdown when he grabbed him.

“I don’t think he saw me,” Urlacher said. “He threw it to me – then he tackled me.”

Rodgers’ play almost certainly saved a score and might have saved the game.

“I don’t get paid to tackle, but that was probably one of my better plays of the game,” Rodgers said.

Urlacher, who said earlier in the week that he voted for Rodgers for the Pro Bowl, walked away impressed.

“Great quarterback, no doubt about that,” Urlacher said.

But after Urlacher’s interception, the Bears couldn’t make anything happen with Collins in for Cutler, and appeared to be headed for a blowout until Hanie took over.

Packers players were surprised Cutler didn’t come back.

“You know if he doesn’t come back it had to be serious, not to come back and play in this game,” Charles Woodson said.

Matthews wasn’t sure when Cutler got hurt.

“Kinda wish they would have had Jay in there the whole time the way things were going,” Matthews said.

Bears coach Lovie Smith grew testy after being asked several questions about Cutler’s injury.

“He hurt his knee and he was out, all right?” Smith said. “There’s nothing else for me to tell you on that. I don’t know exactly when it happened, he couldn’t go and that was that.”

© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Calvin Michael

    The Bears should
    1. Started Haney.
    2. Replaced Cutler or put him at 2nd string. Thats where he belongs.
    3. Work on replacing half of their offence line.
    4. Replace half of their defence line. They talk a good game but are far from backing it up.If you tell them that there good enough even they start beliveing it.
    5.REPLACE THE HEAD COACH…..ACTIONS speak more than words.
    6. But they wont. because as long as people are stupid enough to shell out the ticket money,why would they spend more.

    • SpellingIzHawrd

      ^This, is why you’re not a head coach in the NFL…

    • Jay Cutler

      Somebody needs to get off their parents computer! I would probably learn how to spell offense and defense before I pretended to know anything about football. It’s obvious you don’t.

  • Abraham Bolden

    Jay Cutler is a quitter and not the quarterback that will lead the Bears to a super bowl. I’ve seen quarterbacks play with cracked ribs, limping, dragging one leg or arm trying to rally their team to victory. But Cutler road a stationary cycle on the sidelines while not showing any signs of pain or disability. He’s a quitter. In a game like the playoff, you leave everything on the field. Tomorrow may never come.

    • Bill

      People are so damn fickle when things are not right with the world, and jump to absurdity.

      Cutler’s prognosis is a torn MCL. For people who don’t know what that is that is, its a medial collateral ligament. One of four ligaments that stabilizes the knee joint.

      Obviously, when they tried to get a feel on the extent of the injury it was answered when he didn’t finish the game.

    • tyler

      have you seen QBs play with a torn knee????????????

      • PackerBacker

        First of all, no one knows that the knee is torn. It’s sounding more like a sprain. And the biggest problem was Cutler’s demeanor on the sideline. There was no fight or desire to keep playing in the game. That’s what people are most upset about ,and rightfully so.

      • StupidPeopleFTW

        Clearly, he should have been crying.
        Nope, then he’s a sissy.

        Shoulda been cheering harder.
        Oops, then he’s not hurt.

        Shoulda stayed on the field.
        Tried that, pulled by doctors.

        It’s almost as though people just wouldnt be happy regardless… interesting…

      • StupidPeopleFTW

        Lovie said, in no uncertain terms, that he was pulled by the team doctors. Please get your facts straight before making dumb comments.

        Also reported this morning. Cutler has a torn MCL.

      • dmg

        I dunno, but I saw one play with a broken ankle…

      • StupidPeopleFTW

        Cutler got racked twice on the 2nd to last possession including a sack where he got ridden to the ground by Shields. Following that was the Briggs INT, on the throw to Knox that was INT it was all arm. He got no power from his legs and the throw came up short partially due to that.

        He left immediatley after the INT to the locker room gingerly. During halftime (as it was reported) he received treatment as well as had his knee wrapped. They didn’t know how he would be able to go on it. Collins came out and prepped to go in at the START of the 3rd quarter. Cutler didn’t get back to the field from the trainer’s room until a minute before the 3rd quarter started and many thought he wasn’t going to be going back in at all. On the first drive of the 3rd quarter, the Bears went run, run, pass and on the pass Cutler literally had no power from on his legs. It was a throw done completely with his arm. After that they made the decision to sit him (which, by all accounts except FOX TV analysts who have no one on the sideline and no way to judge except their eyes, was the coaches/trainers decision). They cut to Cutler twice while the O was on the field where he was by himself. The only time they cut to him during a defensive series he was sitting next to Hanie talking, looking at the playbook with Caleb. I’m not exactly sure what people were looking at, while Cutler wasn’t falling to the ground every step he took, he certainly had a limp.

      • PackerBacker

        Jay Cutler has been throwing INT’s his whole career when he doesn’t get any power from his legs. It’s what he does. That is not proof at all that he was injured. And even Lovie Smith never said it was the doctor’s decision to pull him. If you listen to his post game press conference he tries to sidestep it as much as possible, knowing that if he states it was Cutler’s decision the media world is going to explode over what a pansy Cutler is.

      • PackerBacker

        SPRAINED MCL. Not torn. Just like I said last night. And Lovie said Jay told the doctors he couldn’t return. They’re all trying to cover for him. Why, I don’t know. Looks like you need to check your facts, Stupid. You’re QB is a pansy and he’s going to be run out of town by all the venemous fans now. Sprained knee. What a loser.

    • Chu

      Hey meathead! Quit drinking that kool aid and get your facts straight! Know the facts before you make a stupid comment!

    • 89 coach

      I am very proud of the bears players and coaching staff for getting to the nfc championship. The bears played some pretty good football, and beat some of the best teams in the league to get to that point. Im trying to stay as optimistic as i can about the outcome of yesterdays game. Some of the players showed a ton a heart and courage. Thats easy to see and i think most of the fans would agree that we did some good things in that game. Now on to the players that walk around with their heads down and have a look on their face that shows what kind of a person they really are. Cutler should be ashamed of himself, not for the way that he played, but for his attitude. This was the biggest game of his life and he looked like he dident care if the team won or lost, or if he even played.

  • chachi

    the game was just boring overhyped and no motivation and no leadership i am at a lost man…….it’s to bad, i love my bears…….

  • Frank

    Lovie is on the take— bad calls from the get go— not even a field goal really and how about at the very end of the game where lovie calls a reverse play with 1min left to go

    Lovie is on the take
    get rid of Lovie
    Get rid of the cowardly Cutler- he has a bad knee but stood on it for the rest of the game

  • Bears Run To Super Bowl Falls Short

    […] […]

  • Rob

    What an absolute embarrassment of a showing. The Bears were simply NOT prepared today, which is directly related to coaching. And we all know how horrible this coaching staff is. I mean, cmon, the team wins the coin toss and decides to start with DEFENSE. Lovey should GO! What a pitiful display.

  • knowsbetter

    All you Bear Fans can wait till next year…Suckers!

  • Chuck

    Big games define quarterbacks; Cutler didn’t have the skill to succeed when the stakes were high nor did he have the perseverance to continue on when things weren’t going his way.

    • SpellingIzHawrd

      mcl injury = ‘things werent going his way’.

      People are absolutely amazing…

      • Michael Che

        Hanie was absolutely amazing, and the game was great. Some people are blind to some things, they only watch the score.
        I’m proud to be a fan of such a team. GO BEARS!

      • tyler

        Folks lets keep in mind that Hanie had a 65 passer rating

  • J

    Soft receivers, poor o-line, and no defensive tackles who can do the job in this type of defense. This is why the Bears are inconsistent and lost today. Plain and simple. They have plenty of work to do this off season, but who knows with the CBA looming and of course, Jerry Angelo’s drafting record! OMG!!

    • Spoon

      Hey, hey, hey!!! That sounds like logic, and it has no place here, from what I can tell.

      • J

        Gee, thanks Spoon!!!! LOL!!!!

  • bill

    NO OFFENSE AND cutler really does’t have what it takes he plays 2 or 3 good games and then he falls apart . Maybe invest in a QB that can take the heat It’ll be along time to get back to this moment.

  • dmcsherlock

    Local news afraid of the Cutler subject, apparently, but it’s all over the national internet. Caleb starts next year.

  • JIm

    Bears were a fraud all season. Started with the gift they got in game one vs Detroit and continued with wins in 5 games against teams playing 2nd or 3rd string QB’s. Then they get the 7-9 Seahawks in the playoffs at home to get to the championship game today. They are not a very good football team pierod. Thank goodness they will not represent the NFC in the Super Bowl!

    • Bill

      The Packers were very fortunate to have beaten the Bears since it was the Bears that have given them fits that no other team has.

      • Mike 4 Pack

        How does a 6 seed beat a 2 seed? How does a 6 seed beat a 2 seed. The Pack lost all six games by 6 points or less. Two losses were in overtime. The Bears had 3 wins against 3rd string QBs and won a couple others by sheer luck. The NFC 6 seed was clearly the best team going into the playoffs. That’s how they beat the 3, 1 and 2 seeds.

      • PackerBacker

        No, it was the Bears who were fortunate to be in the NFC championship game since they clearly were not the 2nd best team in the NFC this year. The Bears had TWO chances to knock the Packers out fo the playoffs and couldn’t do it either time. The only reaon why it appears that “the Bears give the Packers fits” is because it’s a rivalry game. The Bears are lucky it was the Packers. Otherwise they would have been absolutely blown out and look even more pathetic than they already do. Maybe next year Bears. Probably not, but maybe. :)

    • PackerBacker

      Thank god someone else has a voice of reason. I’ve been saying that for weeks on this site and people act like I’m crazy. You can also add that the Bears played 6 games against playoff teams, with 5 being at home. (Packers had 5 of 6 on the road- before the playoffs even started.) The Bears also had no major injuries at all this season which is almost unheard of now. The 2010-11 Bears are the luckiest team in the history of the NFL.

      • Warren

        The could easily go 6 and 10 next year.

    • what a shame

      EXACTLY!!!!! I’ve been saying the same damn thing. Keep living in ’85 fools!!!

  • John

    Can you say a fixed game??…Com on that was worse than a Don King Match.

    • dmg

      Oh John, how can you say that, except maybe your QB was betting on the side that they would lose? THEN I could see how he may try to fix it with his “owie” on his knee…you simply lost to a better team.

      • Bill

        How is a six seed better than a 2?

  • Ahmed Abdulle

    cutler what a coward!

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  • Steeler Nation

    What would you rather lose, the NFL Championship or the Super Bowl? The Steelers will make fondu out of the Packers!!

    • Mike 4 Pack

      Dom Capers has 2 weeks to plot against the Steeler offense. There are going to be defensive schemes that you won’t find in any game film. I see the Pack melting the Steelers.

  • acer


  • sam

    bears lose, bears lose,bears lose yea, jim said it best bears should have lost 3-4 other games,they were a .500 team it.

  • sam

    bring back chicago cardinals. best chciago football team ever.

  • Laura

    The McCaskeys should NOT have given Cutler a million-dollar contract BEFORE this game! Of course, had they waited, the cheapskates would have had to pay him more if the Bears had won yesterday.
    It’s all a money game, folks. Cutler is upset at how little he is being paid and retreated to the sidelines like the whiny little baby he is. He only cares about money – couldn’t care less about the team or the organization.
    If he was TRULY hurt, he would have been sitting with his leg up with ice on it or getting an MRI right away and not even on the sidelines.
    I don’t like Cutler (never have) – but I don’t like how the McCaskeys are being cheapskates at the expense of the fans even more.
    What a horrible mistake they made acquiring Cutler and losing Orton. Next thing you know, they will be trading Hanie too. IDIOTS

    • StupidPeopleFTW

      What are you talking about? Almost nothing you wrote here makes any sense to a slightly intelligent individual. People like you are the worst type of moron sports fans. Please go play in traffic or drive off a cliff and die.

  • Laura

    Wow , lay off the ‘roids, dude. I hope you don’t have a gun.

  • Fast Eddie

    Jay Cutler is a Whimp!!. I am embarrassed to be a NFL fan after watching this dirt bag leave his team to lose. I like how Urlacher tried to defend Cutler when two years ago he was caling him a #$%%^& rymes with (wussy) Ha Ha haaaaaa…….

  • Bill

    I agree with most of what you have said, however, the crux of all the problems is the McCaskey’s, period! For 25 years since Halas’s death we had very little to cheer about in Chicago.

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