Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/21/12
After an embarrassing loss on Monday Night Football, the Chicago Bears have a record of 7-3 and are in second place behind the Green Bay Packers via a tiebreaker. That should sound familiar to Bears fans as the team was also 7-3 last year.But a year ago this week, Quarterback Jay Cutler broke his thumb on his throwing hand trying to make a tackle against the San Diego Chargers. Without Cutler, the Bears lost five straight games with Quarterback Caleb Hanie and finished a disappointing 8-8.Pittsburgh’s 2012 record thus far nearly mirrors last year’s start just like Chicago’s does. After a home loss to the Ravens, the Steelers dropped to 6-3 in 2011, but won their next four games.At 10-3, Pittsburgh looked poised for another deep playoff run until Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger limped off the field with a high ankle sprain against Cleveland. Roethlisberger only missed one game, but in his other three starts, the Steelers were 1-2 and lost in the wild card playoff game against Denver.Yes, RB Matt Forte also missed the end of the season and other key players were hurt late in the season for Pittsburgh, but ironically, the quarterback injury was the demise for these two proud defensive teams. Maybe it is the way in which the NFL works now; it’s a quarterback league. Or maybe these two offenses are more quarterback oriented than they used to be.Cutler has not been on the Bears very long, but since Big Ben entered the league, it seems like every season the backup quarterback starts a few games for the Steelers. Pittsburgh is 7-6 since Roethlisberger took over the starting job in week three of 2004. In 2005, the Steelers won two games without their starting quarterback and even though Big Ben started every game in 2008, Backup Byron Leftwich came into games and led the team to victory.In 2010, the NFL suspended Roethlisberger for the first four games of the season, and Pittsburgh went 3-1. All three years, the Steelers advanced to the Super Bowl.Both teams would like to repeat that success those past Steelers teams had with their backup quarterback. This offseason, Chicago brought in Jason Campbell to be the new backup quarterback to Jay Cutler. With a fabulous first half from the defense that leads the league in takeaways, the Bears jumped out to 7-1. But against a tough Texan defense, Houston knocked Cutler out of the game with a concussion.Cutler has not played for six quarters and the Bears have dropped the last two games.Pittsburgh had a more awkward start to 2012, but the Steelers have not lost two in a row. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s game plan features wide receiver screens and quick passes to cut down on the number of hits Big Ben, who is now 30, takes. But Kansas City proved that it only takes one bad hit to knock out a quarterback. Roethlisberger badly sprained his shoulder and dislocated his rib on the same hit.It then took the Steelers overtime to defeat the lowly Chiefs and then they dropped a close one to the division rival Ravens. With Roethlisberger out maybe two more weeks, Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl chances are also dropping fast.Luckily for the Bears, Cutler could start this coming week and if not probably the next. But the way his team played without him just reminds the NFL how quickly a season can change with just one injury even for these dominant defensive teams.
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