Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Sunday, December 9, 2012
Jay Cutler exits game vs. Vikings

By Michael C. Wright
ESPNChicago.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a neck injury that eventually forced him out of Sunday's 21-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

The injury likely will not affect Cutler's availability for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Cutler absorbed a blow in the fourth quarter from Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, resulting in the injury and a flag on the defender for unnecessary roughness. Cutler remained in the lineup for the rest of the drive that bogged down at the Minnesota 23 with 4:31 left to play.

The Bears regained possession again 41 seconds later without Cutler in the lineup, as Jason Campbell filled in for the duration of the contest.

"Yeah, (it's) really stiff," said Cutler, who struggled to turn his head from side to side while addressing reporters. "It started stiffening up a little more as the game progressed, getting some spasms on the left side. So I just have to take it day by day."

Cutler rose to his feet slowly after the hit from Griffen, and rested his hands on his knees while attempting to ready himself to play the rest of the possession. Cutler finished the series, hitting four of his next nine passes for 38 yards before the drive stalled on an incompletion to Brandon Marshall.

"I thought he fought until the end," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Of course we'd like to have a couple of those throws back. But Jay is gonna play like that always. We know what we're gonna get from him."

Cutler got off to a slow start against the Vikings, completing 22 of 44 attempts for 260 yards to finish with a passer rating of 57.0 with two interceptions. Prior to Sunday's loss, Cutler hadn't thrown the ball 40 times or more in a game since Sept. 18, 2011 -- a loss at New Orleans.

Since Cutler became a Bear in 2009, the team has lost all six of its contests in which he finished with 40 or more attempts.

Cutler said the Bears "got the coverage we wanted on both" of his interceptions.

Meanwhile, Bears kicker Robbie Gould strained his left calf in warm-ups, limiting his ability to take long kicks. He was kicking midrange field goals without trouble shortly before the game started, but punter Adam Podlesh handled the kickoffs. The Bears reached the Vikings 35-yard line late in the first quarter, and Podlesh came out to punt. Gould made the extra point after Chicago's second-quarter touchdown.

"I'll be OK," Gould said after the game. "I'll be fine. I'm just going to do whatever I can to make sure I'm good for next week." Bears safety Craig Steltz left the locker room with his right arm in a sling. They officially said he suffered a chest injury.