Questioning Jay Cutler’s Toughness

Cutler proved it is possible to lose more in the conference championship game than just the dream of playing in a Super Bowl. He . Yes, most of America will quickly train its focus on the winners of Sunday’s games and marvel at the star power of a Packers-Steelers Super Bowl, a matchup made in N.F.L. Films heaven. Chicago will take a long time to shake the image of Cutler looking not the least bit hurt, and , that was all that mattered. Plenty of people rushed to Cutler’s defense, , and the and the offered matching critiques of those questioning Cutler’s toughness. But the battle may have been lost in the time television cameras kept showing Cutler on the sideline while his opposite number, the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, was soldiering on after nearly being knocked stupid by Julius Peppers. (notably, a Chicago native) quickly lumped Cutler into a pile of failed Bears quarterbacks.

The only one who came out of that mess looking good in a Bears uniform was the third-string near-hero Caleb Hanie, of being heartily congratulated despite throwing two rally-killing interceptions. And it did reflect a little glory back on Green Bay’s defense, as , which hinged on the , whose one zone blitz created the pivotal interception by B. J. Raji. That helped persuade to pin the Packers’ success not on destiny or whim but on toughness and resilience.

The tradition-lovers’ dream Super Bowl was complete with the Steelers not only , but rendering the talk-happy Jets nearly speechless. On the Jets’ side, there was plenty to blame for the flameout. that the Jets’ hopes died in failing to score from the 1 in the fourth quarter, a fiasco that terrible play-calling by Brian Schottenheimer. Complicating matters was the in quarterback Mark Sanchez’s helmet at that moment. But the result was sealed by Rex Ryan’s beloved defense being steamrolled for the entire first half.

The Steelers got their share of praise for doing the steamrolling, with that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger proved he could handle all manner of pressure. preferred to highlight the job Coach Mike Tomlin has quietly done with this team. pivots ahead to the Super Bowl matchup and warns that the Steelers defense will be facing a much better quarterback in its next game.

That next game is being hailed as a classic, with calling it the coolest matchup possible. highlights the history behind the Steelers and the Packers, and writes that despite the parity in the N.F.L. parity, there is something satisfying about two of the league heavyweights making it this far.

Soon, all that will overshadow the personal plummet of Jay Cutler. But not yet. And maybe never in Chicago.

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