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updated: 11/4/2013 11:22 PM

Little could Jay Cutler have known what would transpire in Packerland

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  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, right, talks to the Bears' Jay Cutler after Monday's game at Lambeau Field. Both watched the game from the sidelines -- Rodgers suffered an injury in the first half.

      Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, right, talks to the Bears' Jay Cutler after Monday's game at Lambeau Field. Both watched the game from the sidelines -- Rodgers suffered an injury in the first half.
    Associated Press

 
 

Back when Jay Cutler was healthy last month, he made a relevant remark immediately following the Bears' victory over the Giants.

The Bears' starting quarterback said, "I don't think anybody in this league is where they want to be offensively and defensively at this point."

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True enough.

The days are over when the NFL teams were identifiable as elite or not from training camp through the playoffs. They're all works in progress these days.

"Too early in the year," Cutler added back then. "You want to be playing your best football in November and December and make your run then. That's where you've got to get better and better."

Well, after playing only one game in 24 days, the Bears took their first November exam on Monday night at Green Bay. Little did Cutler know that a torn groin muscle would keep him from playing in the Bears' 27-20 victory at Green Bay.

"This is neat," Bears' winning quarterback Josh McCown said. "This is really neat."

Little could Cutler have known that Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers would play only a couple minutes before suffering a left-shoulder injury.

Little could Cutler have known that McCown would look more like a Pro Bowl candidate than a journeyman and Packers' backup quarterback Seneca Wallace would look more like a journeyman than a Pro Bowl candidate.

Little could Cutler have known that the Bears' beleaguered pass rush suddenly would perk up, including Shea McClellin knocking out Rodgers and Julius Peppers being more active than at any other time this season.

Little could Cutler have known that the Packers would feature a punishing running game with Eddie Lacy and James Starks instead of their customary lethal passing game.

Little could Cutler have known that the Bears' once vaunted special teams would be victimized by a Packers' blocked punt and an onside kick.

Yes, so much has changed from when Jay Cutler indicated a month ago that they would.

The biggest change is that the Bears finally beat the Packers for the first since 2008 and the first time in Green Bay since 2007.

The victory made all the difference in the world for the Bears, who jumped into a three-way tie atop the NFC North with the Packers and Lions.

So a lot tilted in the Bears' favor on this night, not the least being Rodgers' uncertain status.

"I'm a quarterback fan," McCown said. "Anytime you see a quarterback get hurt, it hurts you. When (Rodgers) isn't on the field, your odds of winning are better but you don't ever want to see anyone hurt."

Meanwhile, a pregame media report indicated that it's possible Cutler would return to play next week at home against the Lions.

Anyway, the preliminaries are over now. The main events begin now. The the race to the playoffs is under way in earnest now.

The Bears play the Packers again in the regular-season finale Dec. 29 in Soldier Field and it'll be interesting to see the state of each of these teams on that date.

What will their respective records be by then? Will their injured stars be healthy? Will the Lions be better than either of them?

With the help of playing the Packers with Aaron Rodgers' arm tied behind their backs, the Bears actually looked like a team that might evolve during the second half of the regular season into one that could make a run during the postseason.

Some of those late bloomers were wild cards. Some made it all the way to the Super Bowl. Some even won it.

Considering all of Monday night's improbabilities, anything is possible as the Bears enter the second half of their 16-game schedule.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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