Is Cutler the toughest quarterback in the NFL?

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Is Cutler the toughest quarterback in the NFL?

There is something to be said about what your peers say about you. When it comes to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, its pretty clear how highly his toughness is regarded.

He played tough today, especially after coming back from that hit, Lions linebacker Justin Durant said. It seemed like it was a pretty tough hit that probably hurt him. He showed courage and came back in and played.

The hit Durant mentions of course came in the second quarter from Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Cutlers toughness was displayed when he returned to the field to start the second half after the rib injury temporarily knocked him out of the game before halftime.

Nobody ever said he wasnt tough, Lions defensive end Cliff Avril said. He has to be a tough guy to be starting in the NFL. He did show some toughness when he did go down and came back. Nobody ever questioned his toughness.

The compliments didnt stop with just the opposing team. Bears head coach Lovie Smith took it a step further.

Its what he is, Smith said. Hes a tough guy. Thats what you should have as your Chicago Bear quarterback and he does it time after time. He was in some pain, but he fought through it.

Maybe thats just it. Cutler wasnt just physically tough in Monday nights win over the Lions, but he is tough to the core, from the moment his feet hit the floor in the morning, to the time his head hits the pillow at night. He isnt warm and fuzzy all of the time, but thats part of his toughness.

Think of the toughest people you know. Most of them are stern and sometimes abrasive. But, thats part of what keeps them strong both mentally and physically. They may not always say the right things or be the most understanding in certain situations, but they are usually the most loyal individuals in your life and often times get the most out of you in the end.

Hes tough, Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. Being around him, thats what I see on a daily basis.

Marshall and Cutler were both drafted by Denver in 2006 and have since been reunited in Chicago. So I think its pretty safe to say Marshall understands Cutler pretty well. Just like wide receiver Earl Bennett, who has played with Cutler the last few seasons with the Bears and was his teammate at Vanderbilt.

Hes a competitor, Bennett said. Hes one of those guys that no matter how beat up he is, he wants to get back in there and help us win the game.

When Cutler went down the entire stadium fell silent. When he got up the crowd was relieved, but still cautiously optimistic about his return. Backup quarterback Jason Campbell took over for the final minutes of the first half and then everyone wondered if Cutler would be back in the game, or be out a few weeks. Some even feared the worst, a season-ending injury.

When the Bears players made their way back out onto the field after halftime someone was missing. Cutler was not with his teammates on the sideline and thats when many started assuming bad news was surely to follow. Then in one brief moment his figure emerged from the tunnel and the Soldier Field crowd erupted. A few minutes later he returned to action and helped ensure his team got the win and moved to 5-1 on the season.

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher explains what it was like during the time of unknown.

"Stressful," Urlacher said. "He's tough, man. It looked like he was in pain. We all held our breath a little bit until he came back out there. I'm glad he's okay and finished the game."

When Urlacher says someone is tough, they are tough. Which is why it's not out of the question to say Cutler may be the toughest quarterback in the NFL. He's 10-1 in his last 11 starts and seems committed to the game more than ever before.

He took a beating by opposing pass rushers during the Mike Martz era. He has received criticism for shoving offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb during a Week 2 loss in Green Bay. Since then Webb has been a much-improved player. A few weeks later in Dallas Cutler got grief for walking away from offensive coordinator Mike Tice. The two were seen fist pounding the next week in Jacksonville and now the Bears have the third best record in the NFL and are sitting all alone in first place of the NFC North.

The time for bashing the starting quarterback in Chicago may be coming to an end. The hard-working people of the Windy City now have a signal caller they can relate to. He's not perfect, but nobody is. He's not prolific, but with an elite defense in place he doesn't have to be.

Cutler had his 2010 season ended by a knee injury against the Packers in the NFC Championship. Last season was cut short by a broken thumb in a Week 11 win over the San Diego Chargers. It's pretty simple. Cutler knows the Bears have the talent to win the Super Bowl this season and he's showing they may have the toughness to get them there too.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."