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Bears lose Jay Cutler to injury, fall to Redskins 45-41

Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman also injured

By Rich Campbell, Chicago Tribune reporter

6:11 AM CDT, October 21, 2013

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LANDOVER, Md. — Josh McCown pulled on the gray jacket of his slim-fitting suit, tightened his navy tie and slid on his brown wingtip shoes without tying the laces. Jay Cutler had been on the Bears' team bus for 15 minutes, having been transported there by cart because of his injured groin. McCown, then, hurried off to complete the game-day duties of a Bears quarterback.

With the poise of an 11-year veteran, McCown explained to reporters his role in the Bears' 45-41 loss to the Redskins. In that 10-minute exchange, he epitomized a team that limped home dogged by uncertainty.

McCown was pleased by his teammates' effort, hopeful for some auspicious medical examinations this week and resigned to the fact his performance was not good enough to win Sunday.

"All the things that we want to do, as far as the team, are still in front of us," McCown said. "I think we've just got to take our break, get healthy, some of these guys on defense get a little bit more healthy and see where we are."

And with that, the Bears retreated to their week off with a pile of rubble to sift through.

In losing for the third time in their last four games, the defense surrendered 499 yards to a Redskins team that entered with a 1-4 record. The Redskins drove at least 74 yards for each of their five touchdowns.

"We've got to do better," defensive end Corey Wootton said. "This is the one that's really frustrating."

Injuries continued to accumulate. Redskins running back Roy Helu scored the decisive touchdown run with 45 seconds left, while Bears linebacker Lance Briggs (left shoulder) and cornerback Charles Tillman (right knee) were on the sideline.

For all the injuries and breakdowns on defense, though, Cutler's injury cast the greatest shadow. He is scheduled for an MRI exam Monday. Some of his teammates feared an extended absence, but coach Marc Trestman clung to optimism because Cutler did not suffer a joint or ligament injury.

"It's not a knee," Trestman said. "It's not an ankle. It's not a hip. It's just a groin injury."

Trestman, though, said he did not have a sense of how serious the injury is, despite the fact Cutler could not stand upright while limping to the locker room.

"Just going to wait and see what the doctors say," Trestman said.

The Bears, however, did start planning for life without Cutler. Free-agent quarterback Jordan Palmer, who was with the Bears for part of the preseason, is scheduled to visit Halas Hall on Monday, he said in a phone conversation.

Cutler left the game at the 9:47 mark of the second quarter after Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker looped around right guard on a stunt and sacked him. He stayed down and immediately grabbed his left thigh and hip area.

On the play, defensive end Kedric Golston engaged right guard Kyle Long and pushed inside, while Baker looped around from the right. Normally, Long would have passed Golston off to center Roberto Garza, but Garza was occupied by blitzing linebacker London Fletcher.

"It's an impossible play to pick up," Long said.

Long alleged that Golston held his jersey to prevent him from getting off the block. That, however, was not evident from the television broadcast.

"That's a technique they use," he said. "I'll have to look at the film, but I definitely felt like I was held. It's something that we knew coming in."

McCown said he was "bummed" for his friend Cutler, but he kept the Bears in the game. Trestman called several quick passes to the perimeter, which not only were part of the original game plan for Cutler, but they also helped McCown get acclimated in his first regular-season game since the 2011 season finale.

"When you pick the ball up and throw it as a quarterback — and you complete it — you start to feel a good rhythm happening. We executed those well, and that's what I'm pleased about, but it certainly helps you getting in a rhythm."

McCown completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett that gave the Bears a 41-38 lead with 3:57 to play.

The defense, however, collapsed. The Redskins marched 80 yards in 12 plays, converting three third downs on the way and casting doubt on where the Bears' season is headed.

"They had to drive the whole field, and they drove it on us," Wootton said. "We have to stop them. It was on us, and we didn't come through."

Tribune reporter Brad Biggs contributed to this report

rcampbell@tribune.com

Twitter @Rich_Campbell