The Bears and their fans breathed a huge sigh of relief when quarterback Jay Cutler returned in the second half of Monday night's game after enduring a violent takedown by Detroit Lions brute Ndamukong Suh.
Cutler wasn't his usual self after getting his ribs bruised, but he was effective -- and tough -- enough to maintain the Bears' lead in the 13-7 victory on "Monday Night Football." He'll be re-examined this week as part of "normal" protocol, Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
"That's just a normal part of our protocol if a player has an injury to monitor it and evaluate it more," Smith said. "I say most of our guys will be sore, but yeah, we will continue to evaluate him. Hopefully, he will be OK.
"He's a tough guy. Most people thought Jay would get up. Unless it's a broken leg or something like that, he's going to get up. He is a tough guy. That's what you should have as your Chicago Bear quarterback and he does it time after time. That's effort by him. He was in some pain but he fought through it."
Cutler wasn't as accurate as he can be with his passes in the second half. He finished 16-for-31 for 150 yards and a touchdown. He also was sacked five times.
Cutler admitted afterward that it wasn't easy playing through the bruised ribs.
"Yeah, [it was] getting to the ball and throwing the ball," Cutler said. "It was on my right side, so trying to get my right side through was a little bit tough. I missed some throws. 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.
"I feel all right right now. I think later in the week is going to be a little bit difficult, but I'm all right right now."
Asked if he took a pain killer, Cutler said, "We did some stuff back here in the back room."
Cutler's teammates praised his toughness after the victory.
"He took a tough shot. He's a competitor," wide receiver Earl Bennett said. "He's one of those guys that no matter how beat up he is, he wants to get back in there and help us win the game. He was able to get back in there. We didn't have the production in the passing game that we wanted, but we ran the ball well. It was enough to get a win."
Linebacker Brian Urlacher said it was "stressful: when Cutler was out of the game.
"He's tough, man," Urlacher said. "I don't know what happened to him or what he did. It looked like he was in pain. We all held our breath a little bit until he came back out there. I'm glad he's OK and he finished the game."