By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) Jay Cutler said it was a clean hit.
“I was outside the pocket. It’s football,” he said.
Lovie Smith agreed.
“That’s football,” the Bears head coach said. “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 a game.”
But that doesn’t mean Brandon Marshall is on the same page. The Bears’ No. 1 wide receiver, and close friend of Cutler, voiced his displeasure on Twitter with Ndamukong Suh’s second quarter hit that gave his quarterback bruised ribs and briefly knocked him out of the game.
“A Suh. What u did to Jay wasn’t cool. Great players don’t have to do that,” Marshall wrote on Twitter.
A subsequent tweet said: “A Suh. Something I’ve learned and now passing down to you. Succeed with character”
Suh, who chased Cutler down on the play and put his forearm up to Cutler’s neck before driving him to the ground, disagreed.
“It was simply a football play,” he said. “I couldn’t control my momentum, especially at that high speed. I’m chasing him, he’s running away from me. My whole goal is to get the quarterback down and make a play and get us off the field for the next play.”
For what it’s worth, Suh said he went over to check on Cutler after the play.
Tillman Shuts Down Megatron
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was spectacular Monday night, forcing two fumbles while holding Calvin Johnson to just three catches for 34 yards.
“That’s a tough duty playing against one of the best players in the league, matching up with him all night,” Lovie Smith said. “He did an outstanding job of really holding him to very little.”
Tillman now has 32 forced fumbles since entering the league in 2003. That’s the most by a defensive back in that time period and the third most overall.
Hester Sees Return Role Diminish
The Lions have allowed four return touchdowns this season, but Devin Hester wasn’t able to capitalize Monday night. In fact, he flat out struggled. The dynamic return man had just one punt return for five yards and made questionable decisions on two others, including one he let bounce when he easily could have fair caught it, costing the Bears 12 yards.
Special teams coach Dave Toub eventually gave both Earl Bennett and Eric Weems opportunities in the punt and kick return game, with Weems returning one kickoff for 27 yards. After the game, head coach Lovie Smith said that was a part of the game plan.
“We have good returners, the plan was to (give others opportunities),” he said. “Devin’s workload was going to increase a little bit on the offensive side. We have been wanting to get Eric Weems a few returns. So it was just a base part of our game plan going in.”
That stat sheet doesn’t always tell the whole story and that was certainly the case Monday night. Despite only winning 13-7, the Bears were in control from start to finish, with the Lions scoring their only points on their last offensive play of the game.
Yet when it was all over, the Lions actually finished with more total yards than the Bears (340 to 296). The Bears, however, had two more offensive plays and won the time of possession 34:35 to 25:25.
Jay Cutler was the only player Smith provided an update on after the game. Matt Forte appeared to bang up his right arm late in the game, but he returned to action and Lovie downplayed the issue.
“You guys know a lot more than I do,” the head coach said. “Hard fought game. Guys will have bumps and bruises, but I don’t think anyone is hurt seriously where they are going to miss any time.”
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.