Jay Cutler finally got some protection.
The Chicago Bears rushed to their quarterback’s defense Monday, blasting current and former players who in Twitter posts questioned his toughness for sitting out most of the second half of Sunday’s 21-14 NFC championship game loss to Green Bay with a knee injury.
“I think it’s crap,” general manager Jerry Angelo said. “... I’m very disappointed. That, to me, is dirty pool.”
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, along with former players such as Deion Sanders and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth (who had 20 surgeries on his knees), were among those criticizing Cutler on Sunday.
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To that, coach Lovie Smith said, “Our quarterback’s a tough guy. ... It’s pretty simple what happened yesterday. Before the half, Jay hurt his knee. He showed a lot of toughness to continue to play with it.”
Smith said Cutler sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee late in the first half and would have been questionable for the Feb. 6 Super Bowl had the Bears beaten Green Bay. He also emphasized the team and medical staff made the call to lift the quarterback.
Jones-Drew said of his Twitter post, “I threw out this joke and the backlash came in,” and added he’s received death threats.
TV RATINGS UP
The AFC championship game earned its highest television rating in 14 years, while the NFC game also drew the best rating for the early conference championship game in the same span.
The Steelers’ 24-19 win over the Jets in the AFC title game Sunday on CBS had a 28.3 rating and 43 share, the highest since the Jaguars-Patriots matchup in January 1997.
The Packers’ 21-14 victory over the Bears on Fox earned a 28.1/50, the best since Panthers-Packers, also in 1997.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the leading vote-getter for The Associated Press All-Pro Team, getting all the votes for quarterback.
Ravens safety Ed Reed was the other unanimous selection. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the only rookie voted All-Pro.
SEARCH FOR BODY
A private search team called in by Ravens safety Reed and family members took to the Mississippi River at first light to search for the body of Reed’s missing 28-year-old brother.
Texas EquuSearch on Sunday had located what it believed to be the body of Brian Reed tangled in debris about 20 miles northwest of New Orleans. But Kenner Police Lt. Wayne McInnis said divers were unable to find it.
Brian Reed apparently jumped into the river after being confronted by a deputy sheriff on Jan. 7.
The retractable roof at $1.3 billion Cowboys Stadium will be closed for the Super Bowl. ... Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ shoulder is sore after he was hit during the win over the Bears. ... The Bengals aren’t willing to trade quarterback Carson Palmer, who said he wanted a trade last week. ... Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said he is “optimistic” he will not need surgery this offseason on his sore right shoulder, but also didn’t rule out a procedure. ... The Vikings hired Dolphins running back coach James Saxon for the same position. ... After getting eliminated for the second consecutive year in the AFC title game, Jets coach Rex Ryan, predictably, is excited for the future. “I think that our best is still yet to come,” he said. ... Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie used an expletive to describe union and NFL leaders in his latest profanity-filled rant.