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The morning after

I would have done this last night, but the trainers wouldn't let me ...

* Lots of bloviation today on Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler and whether or not he was a) truly injured, or b) a big flaming wuss for not sucking it up and returning to the game with a Super Bowl berth in the balance.

Let me say this about that: I don't really know the extent of his injury, and neither do Mark Schlereth, Derrick Brooks or any of the other couch potatoes who were shredding the guy from the comfort of their living rooms. What I do know is if the trainers told him he couldn't go back in, there's not much he could do about it. Players are viewed as expensive investments now, and risk assessments of them are made accordingly. Blame what the NFL has become for that, not Cutler. It's just another bottom-line corporate entity and that's all it is.

That said ... I also know that if he's walking around un-braced on the sideline with no visible discomfort and even riding a stationary bike periodically, he couldn't have been that impaired. And yet it wasn't obvious (and he didn't imply as much, either) that he was making any sort of impassioned plea to get back in the game.

Yes, the knee hurt. But somewhere Jack (Hacksaw) Reynolds, who played the NFC championship game on a broken leg, was doubtless sneering when Cutler said that.

So you can take all of it for what it's worth, which isn't much. You can also take this: It wouldn't have mattered if Cutler had gone back out there. He wasn't moving the team anyway. Frankly, the Bears were better off with Caleb Hanie, who got more done in one quarter than Cutler had in a half-plus -- and showed a lot more grit and leadership under extreme adversity doing it.

* Whatever you think of them, give the Jets some credit. Down 24-0 late in the first half and getting absolutely roadkilled by the Steelers, they didn't pack it in. In fact, they played a more dominant second half than the Steelers did the first half. Had their playcalling on the Steelers' goal-line stand not been so completely awful -- why are you throwing from the 1-yard line when Shonn Greene and LT are running through the Steel Curtain like it's a shower curtain? -- they might have pulled off the greatest comeback in AFC championship game history, on the road, in one of the most difficult environments in the NFL.

If there's actually a season next fall, they're my early, early, early favorite to go to the Super Bowl.

* Whatever you think of him personally (The Blob's take: Very little), is there any quarterback you'd rather have out there with a game on the line than Ben Roesthlisberger? With the Jets down five and the Steelers reeling, Mike Tomlin put the game in his hands. And he won it for them.

Forget his stats. He's the best clutch player in the game, bar none.

* Can we please, please let Aaron Rodgers inside the velvet rope now? He's gotten his team to the Super Bowl. His passer rating in the playoffs is the best of any quarterback in history. If you don't agree by now that he's one of the top three quarterbacks in the game, don't even come in here. We do have standards here in the Blob, after all.

* How great was B.J. Raji's unlikely pick six that put the Packers up 21-7? A moment of glory for one of Keith Jackson's big uglies ... end zone dance included.

Highlight of the entire day.


Ben Smith's blog.