This was part of the grand plan all offseason when the Bears spent heavily for former Washington and Oakland starting quarterback Jason Campbell. They just hoped theyd never need him.
But quarterback Jay Cutler was run down and sacked by Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the second quarter. He stayed down, head on the turf for some minutes before running off the field under his own power.
He was back after a play run by Campbell but lasted only one more series before going into the locker room for evaluation of what clearly was a painful blow to his ribs.
I feel all right now, he said after the game but anticipating soreness to come. I think later in the week is going to be a little bit difficult.
Coach Lovie Smith, who said Cutler would have further tests and examinations done on Tuesday, did not call Suhs hit dirty although one angle appeared to show Suh pulling Cutlers arm on the way down to allow him a better path to pile-drive Cutler into the turf.
It was simply a football play, said Suh, who went over later while Cutler was still down to check in with him. I couldnt control my momentum, especially at high speed.
Cutler said he was wearing a flak jacket but that didnt prevent the effects of Suhs 300-plus pounds landing squarely on top of him.
Cutlers time in Chicago has been anything but pain-free. He missed his only NFL game in 2010 after suffering a concussion in a nine-sack first half against the New York Giants.
His NFC Championship game that season ended with a knee injury before halftime. Last year the Bears were 7-3 when Cutler fractured his right wrist on a tackle against the San Diego Chargers.
The subsequent performances of backup Caleb Hanie sent the Bears into free agency for Campbell, who signed for one year.
Campbell came in for the one snap after Cutlers injury, then finished out the first half. He completed his only pass of the game, to Matt Forte, the first pass he as thrown in a game since last October when he suffered a broken collarbone in a game against the Cleveland Browns.
It felt good to get in for a little bit, let everybody know Im still around, Campbell said, laughing. I warmed up after halftime but he felt like he could go so I just kept loose on the sidelines in case I was needed. Its little different role but it felt good to contribute.
One contribution was a five-yard gain on his first snap, being flushed from the pocket and taking off in his best impersonation of Robert Griffin III.
I cut out like I was trying to get 100 yards rushing, he said. I was just trying to pick up positive yards. And I was thinking maybe go for about 40 yards, you know, just to get my legs loosened up.
Cutler was grabbed awkwardly and came down hard on his right arm.
He was in obvious pain before departing for one play at first and then missing the end of the second quarter.