Jay Cutler has a sprained MCL in his left knee, according to Bears coach Lovie Smith, who also said his quarterback would've been "questionable" for the Super Bowl if the Bears had defeated the Green Bay Packers in Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field and advanced to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas on Feb. 6.
Sean Jensen of the Sun-Times reported earlier Monday that Cutler had suffered a torn MCL. However, a sprain can be a small tear. The severity of the injury was still being evaluated.
The Bears coach also defended his quarterback against chargers by former and current players that he should have remained in Sunday's 21-14 loss instead of leaving the game as a result of the injury.
"He wanted to win the game as much as anyone," Smith said. "It's pretty simple what happened yesterday. Before the half Jay hurt his knee. He showed a lot of toughness to continue to play with it."
Smith said he was surprised by the reaction of players who questioned Cutler's toughness via Twitter accounts.
"I haven't seen it before," Smith said. "It seems like if you were in that fraternity you would be stepping up for you fellow man, especially when you don't know what's going on."
Cutler injured his knee late in the second quarter, although after watching the tape of the broadcast it is difficult to determine when. He went into the locker room early at halftime and played the first series of the third quarter before leaving the game for good.
"We all made the decision then that he couldn't go," Smith said. "We took him in at the half to try to work on him, which we did. We got the treatment at halftime, didn't know for sure if he would be able to go.
"Jay wanted to go and tried to go the second half as he went back in that first series. You never want a player to be out on the football field if he can't protect himself and can't perform his duties during the game."
"Jay didn't take himself out of the game so if you want to attack somebody, you should be attacking me as the head football coach, and our medical staff. We're the ones. He wanted to go back in. He was injured and went back in in the second half so I see it the complete opposite of how it's being portrayed right now."