There he was, face down in the Soldier Field turf. The season, the hot start and the playoff talk all were hanging in the balance suddenly while we waited for him to get on his feet.
It was a clean hit from Suh, but, boy, that was a violent and vicious shot. Nevertheless, it was good, hard defensive football.
The big man drove Cutler into the ground with force and finished him off. He delivered a body blow that resembled a final act on WWE Monday Night Raw when someone is thrown through a ringside table amid choreographed chaos.
As backup Jason Campbell took the field, it became real. You lose your starting quarterback and, well, things change quickly. Panic sets in on the sidelines and you have to scramble as a team to recover.
I played with Campbell on the Redskins and respect his talents. Look around the league and you will find plenty of clubs he could start for right now. However, Cutler is the No.1 guy in Chicago for a reason.
But Campbell took just one snap. That's it. And then Cutler was back on the field.
Impressive. Tough. Physical. That all applied when Cutler jogged back to the huddle after a hit that would send some quarterbacks to the showers.
And I guarantee his teammates noticed because toughness sells in the locker room. It is the ultimate sign of a pro. If you are tough, your teammates will respect you and stand up for you.
Sure, Cutler left early before the half to head to the locker room. Maybe the training staff shot him up with some pain meds (a standard NFL procedure for injuries) or they could have been running more tests on his bruised ribs.
But he was under center for the third quarter and playing in pain. It doesn't take an expert to see Cutler was beat up and hurting. His velocity suffered as did his ability to step into throws and drive the ball in the passing game. The curl, the deep out, they didn't look the same.
Though struggling to take deep breaths, Cutler continued to play.
"I missed some throws," Cutler said. "I wasn't feeling exactly 100 percent, but I had to fight through it."
That's not a problem. The fact that Cutler was out there gets a passing grade from me. That's what I want to see with the quarterback. Take a hit. Take a beating. But get back up, control the offense and put another win on the board.
And the coach noticed too.
"That's what you should have as your Chicago Bear quarterback and he does it time after time," Lovie Smith said. "He was in some pain, but he fought through."
The Bears had to adjust their game plan because of the injury and lean on Matt Forte and the ground attack. Still, they had their guy out there for yet another victory for this 5-1 team.
I was openly critical of Cutler's play and his leadership after the offensive meltdown this team had against the Packers in Green Bay in Week 2. It wasn't good enough. His production slipped and I saw situations on the field that aren't conducive to winning. And my opinions on that game aren't going to change.
But I love toughness when it comes to this game and this league. It is the top compliment you can receive — regardless of the position you play.
Look, the NFL can eat you up at times. No one is "healthy" after the first week of the season. Heck, sometimes you have to find ways to survive for three hours on game days.
Jay Cutler did more than that on Monday night. He took a legit shot from the NFL's "bad boy" and came right back. If that's not true toughness, then I don't know what is.
Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.