CHICAGO — It was bad enough that the quarterback on the other side made him look like the rookie.
That it happened on Monday night might have made it sting even more for star-crossed Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. And that was even before the Eagles added injury to insult, forcing him out of the game with a bad thumb on his throwing hand late in the third quarter of a 29-14 loss to the Eagles .
Cutler couldn’t pinpoint when his thumb began to hurt, but acknowledged “trouble” gripping the ball from early on in the game. The injury was aggravated as he tried to plant his right hand and break his fall on a strip-sack by Philadelphia’s Destiny Vaeao in the third quarter.
Even though he played two more offensive series after the fumble, Cutler watched Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham step in front of an underthrown pass intended for Alshon Jeffery another 10 yards up the field and decided to exit and begin treatment in the locker room.
“I couldn’t get as much on it as I wanted,” he said about the interception. “I knew that I was putting the team, especially the offense, in jeopardy at that point. My day was done.”
But first, Cutler had to endure a dressing down on the sideline from injured teammate Pernell McPhee.
“He’s a passionate guy,” Cutler said, shrugging off the brief spat. “No one likes to lose in that type of fashion.”
The strange thing is, Monday nights had been one of the few reliable bright spots for Cutler and the Bears. While Chicago has struggled to hit the .500 mark more often than not in his seven seasons here, they were 8-2 in his previous Monday night appearances.
That was no coincidence. Cutler threw 20 touchdowns, averaged better than seven years per attempt and posted a 95.5 rating in those games. His numbers in this one weren’t even close. He finished 12 of 17 for 157 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and fumble and a passer rating of 74.9.
Bears coach John Fox said the turnovers forced the Bears into some tough situations against Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz.
“He obviously has a lot of great football ahead of him,” Fox said.
In the home locker room, though, teammates wondered how much more of this season Cutler can play.
“It’s never good to lose your franchise quarterback, whether it’s for a play, a game or possibly even longer,” Bears tight end Zach Miller said. “Especially when you know how much work he’s put in.”
Chicago’s 0-2 start could be even worse than it looks. Tests are scheduled for tomorrow on Cutler’s hand, but the Bears also lost linebacker Lamarr Houston (left knee), nose tackle Eddie Goldman, (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos and cornerback Bryce Callahan (concussions). The team already is struggling with a patchwork offensive line and the departure of steady all-purpose running back Matt Forte, who often served as Cutler’s safety valve.
“It’s tough,” Fox conceded. “If it was easy anybody could do it. … Right now all our focus very quickly will go to Dallas to go on the road Sunday night. And we have a lot of proving to do.”
Some of it will no doubt begin with Cutler. After the game, Bradham said “Our game plan this week was pretty much to frustrate the quarterback.”
It worked well enough.
“I think everyone was probably a little taken back by what happened,” Cutler said. “We’ve got to figure it out obviously.”