Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s toughness was a source of debate a few seasons ago.
If there were any lingering questions about Cutler’s strength, he silenced those critics during a 40-23 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.
Chicago had a 21-point lead before Pittsburgh decreased that deficit to four points in the fourth quarter. The Bears faced third-and-10 on their own 26-yard line when Cutler took the snap. Cutler was eventually forced to scramble, but refused to protect his body and slide - like most quarterbacks are encouraged to do - as Steelers safety Robert Golden zeroed in on the passer.
Instead, Cutler lowered his shoulder and bowled over Golden for the first down. Golden's legs actually buckled as Cutler finished the play like a running back, not a quarterback. Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones definitely would approve of Cutler’s hit.
Cutler gained 13 yards on that run, but his hit will definitely receive different reactions when both teams watch the film on Monday – cheers from the Bears and disbelief by Pittsburgh's players.
That big play proved to be a huge offensive spark for the Bears.
On Chicago’s ensuing third down, Cutler completed a 41-yard pass to Brandon Marshall. Cutler later completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Earl Bennett on third-and-7 to give Chicago a 34-23 lead.
Cutler’s toughness was questioned during a 21-14 loss against the Green Bay Packers in 2011. Cutler sprained medial collateral ligament during that game, but critics questioned the severity of that injury.
The skepticism surrounding Cutler's tenacity no longer seems warranted.
Just ask Golden.