After playing well to close out the season and in Chicago’s playoff win over Seattle, the Jay Cutler many of us were worried about was the one who showed up in the NFC Championship Game. Cutler, who threw for three touchdowns against the Jets and Vikings, and two against the Seahawks in the final four games of the year, went 6/14 for 80 yards and an interception in a little over a half of football against the Packers. He left the field just before halftime with a knee injury but came out to start the second half.
The Bears went three-and-out to start the third quarter, running twice and throwing once. On their next offensive series, Todd Collins entered the game. Collins threw two incompletions before being intercepted on a third down pass. His balls were wobbly and lacked zip, and it was clear he lacked the arm strength to be in the game. After another three-and-out series the next time they had the ball, the Bears decided to make another change at quarterback.
Chicago brought Caleb Hanie in before the third quarter ended, meaning Collins and Cutler were then ineligible to return to the game because of the emergency quarterback rule. Following a few strong runs by Matt Forte, Hanie completed the longest pass of the day for the Bears, a 32-yard completion to Johnny Knox who took the ball down to the one. A Chester Taylor touchdown gave the Bears their first points of the game and brought them to a score away from tying things.
Hanie went undrafted out of Colorado State, but has been with the Bears since 2008. In three seasons in the NFL, he had thrown only 14 passes for 66 yards prior to entering the NFC Championship Game.
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