First postseason game
Cutler in new realm
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — If Jay Cutler is nervous heading into his first playoff game, it was hard to tell this week. It actually was hard to tell anything about the strong-armed quarterback’s mind-set heading into the postseason.
This time, Cutler avoided the deep route.
“Guys are business as usual,’’ he said.
The Chicago Bears will make their first playoff appearance in four years when they host the Seattle Seahawks in a divisional game tomorrow, and Cutler will get his first taste of the postseason. So it wasn’t exactly business as usual around Halas Hall yesterday.
Not since the 2006 team made the Super Bowl have the Bears (11-5) been working this late, but they’re here thanks to a dramatic turnaround that led to the NFC North title and a first-round bye. Cutler, meanwhile, is leading a winner for the first time since his senior year in high school.
Now, the Bears are staring at a team that slipped into the playoffs with a 7-9 record and knocked off defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans last week behind a memorable touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch and a superb effort by Matt Hasselbeck.
The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback threw for four touchdowns as the Seahawks stunned the Saints, 41-36, at Qwest Field. Now, he’ll be making his club-record 11th postseason start.
“As a player, it’s the stage that you love to play on,’’ Hasselbeck said. “It’s so much fun. It’s a blast. I’ve been fortunate to get the opportunity to play in a bunch of playoff games, and you never forget them.’’
Hasselbeck’s first season under coach Pete Carroll has had ups and downs, and with an expiring contract, his future is uncertain.
Carroll has said he wants him back. Hasselbeck has said he wants to play for a winner, whether it’s Seattle or elsewhere.
There are no questions about Cutler’s future in Chicago. There are plenty of doubts, though, about his decisions, his mechanics, and his attitude.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz questioned his demeanor when he was working as an NFL Network analyst last year, but it’s been nothing but sweet talk between them this season, even when Cutler was getting knocked around early on.
“Everyone else on the outside forms their opinion based on nothing, pretty much,’’ tight end Greg Olsen said of Cutler. “It’s just kind of interesting sometimes to hear people who have never met someone talk about how they know exactly what they are.’’
Cutler can help his public image with a strong performance tomorrow.
“We’re in a good situation now,’’ he said. “We’ve just got to take advantage of it.’’
The Seahawks held a light walkthrough yesterday before flying to Chicago. Linebacker Lofa Tatupu participated in the practice, held without helmets or pads, but has still not been cleared to play. Tatupu suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter against New Orleans and he must be cleared through the league-mandated concussion testing. Carroll said the “signs are really good’’ he’ll be able to go against Chicago.