Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler sprained a ligament in his knee during the team’s 21-14 National Football Conference championship-game loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Associated Press reported.
Cutler sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee and would have been questionable to play in the Feb. 6 Super Bowl had the Bears advanced, AP said, citing Bears coach Lovie Smith’s comments today to reporters.
Cutler was injured toward the end of the first half and played one second-half series before being replaced by Todd Collins. Cutler was 6-of-14 passing for 80 yards and an interception.
Cutler’s departure drew criticism on Twitter from several National Football League players as the second half of the game unfolded. After the defeat, his teammates defended Cutler.
“The one thing I know about Jay Cutler is that he’s tough,” Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie, who eventually replaced Collins, told reporters today. “If he could have been on the field and been productive at all for the team, he would have done it. He obviously was in a ton of pain where he couldn’t handle it enough to help the team, so he felt like he might have been hurting the team and took a back seat.”