Cutler to have ribs re-examined Tuesday after vicious sack

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Cutler to have ribs re-examined Tuesday after vicious sack

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.
 
Painful times
 
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.
 
Enter Campbell
 
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.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Bruins

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Bruins

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night:

1. A sluggish start.

The Blackhawks have gotten off to some solid starts lately, scoring the game's first goal in the opening frame in five of their last six contests heading into Friday. But they were lucky to get out of the first in a 0-0 tie this time.

They had 15 shot attempts (six on goal) through the first 20 minutes while the Bruins had 30 attempts (17 on goal). Fortunately for the Blackhawks, Scott Darling stopped all of them that came his way.

Boston's third line of Ryan Spooner, Riley Nash and David Backes dominated possession, leading all skaters with a plus-12 Corsi in the period.  

2. Scott Darling steals two points.

Joel Quenneville decided to go with Darling in an effort to give a slumping Corey Crawford a chance to reset, and the Lemont native an opportunity to play in front of his father away from home, where he's used to watching him shine. It's safe to say he made his papa proud by putting on a great show.

Darling turned aside all 30 shots he faced, including 17 in the first period, for his second shutout of the season and fourth of his career. He has now allowed two or fewer goals in eight of his last 12 starts. 

Asked after the game whether he will earn a second straight start Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks, Quenneville responded, "We'll see."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Special teams not a factor.

In a game that featured only one goal, you'd think the way to crack the scoresheet would be on the man advantage. That didn't happen.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Bruins failed to cash in on their only two opportunities. Boston entered the contest by going 7-for-17 on the power play in their previous five games, good for a 41.2 success rate.

It was a nice bounce-back game for the Blackhawks' penalty kill unit, which allowed a goal on the man advantage in their previous two games.

4. Third line steps up at crucial moment.

The Blackhawks' third line of Vinnie Hinostroza, Marian Hossa and Tanner Kero had the worst possession numbers among all skaters, each registering a 24 percent Corsi or below. But when their team needed them the most, they stepped up.

With 1:26 left in regulation, Hossa ended his 10-game goal drought by burying home a terrific feed from Kero to snap a 0-0 tie and give the Blackhawks their second consecutive win. It's Hossa's 17th goal of the campaign, which ties Artemi Panarin for second on the team, and his fifth game-winning goal of the year. His 83 career game-winning goals now ranks 24th in NHL history, surpassing Mike Bossy, and remains fifth among active players.

Hossa's goal also moved him within a tie of Pierre Turgeon for 37th on the all-time goals list with 516.

Kero has six points in his last six games, while Hinostroza has two goals and one assist in his past two.

5. Despite recent struggles, Bruins in good hands with Claude Julien.

It seems like this is a discussion every year, but firing Julien would be a huge mistake for a Bruins team that fell to 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. They're still the No. 1 possession team in the NHL, controlling 55.42 percent of the even-strength shot attempts, and give up the fifth-fewest high danger scoring chances with 326, according the naturalstattrick.com. They average the second-most shots on goal per game at 33.9, and allow the second-fewest at 26.5.

To back it up, their PDO is 97.5 percent, the sum of a team's even-strength save percentage and shooting percentage that usually works it way toward 100, which indicates they're due for a fairly large correction. They're not getting bounces right now, but they're playing the right way and a change behind the bench would be a step in the wrong direction, considering Julien is easily a top-five coach in the NHL.

Bulls lifeless in Atlanta despite fourth quarter rally

Bulls lifeless in Atlanta despite fourth quarter rally

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn't enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23.

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder's 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scored 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

Perhaps it's the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

The Bulls weren't about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn't relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Jimmy Butler's 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could've trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday's game against the Sacramento Kings and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can’t simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.