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Chargers QB Rivers expresses sympathy for criticized Cutler

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  • By NFL.com
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The sight of injured Jay Cutler standing on the sideline during the second half of Sunday's NFC Championship Game unleashed a avalanche of fan anger and frustration toward the Chicago Bears quarterback.

And while even some fellow NFL players are questioning Cutler's toughness in the hours following the Bears' 21-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers, he can count a sympathetic voice in Philip Rivers.

The San Diego Chargers quarterback was the target of repeated barbs from Cutler during the latter's time with the Denver Broncos, but Rivers apparently isn't one to hold a grudge.

"It's unfortunate," Rivers told The San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday. "You never want to see someone not at their best. ... We definitely went through that (in 2007) when we were trying to make a run. From that standpoint, I have (empathy) for him."

Rivers knows what it's like to deal with an injury during the playoffs. He earned the respect of teammates when he played the 2007 AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots without an anterior cruciate ligament. Six days before the game, Rivers had surgery to remove most of his meniscus in the knee.

Cutler exited Sunday's loss with a sprained medial collateral ligament.

Rivers said he probably would have stayed in Sunday's game if he were playing, but he cautioned it didn't mean that would have been the right move.

"Me personally, I'd have to have been taken off in a cart," Rivers said. "That doesn't mean I'd be right. If they knew he couldn't throw the ball good, he wasn't helping anybody ... I'll never say what he should have done. I can't even say what I would have done in the same position. I do know I'm not coming out unless I can't do anything, and maybe that's how it was (for Cutler).”

Rivers said it looked like Cutler "tried to go" before leaving after one series in the third quarter. Rivers noted Cutler's track record of being on the field.

"He's played in 100-something games," Rivers said. "It's obviously not like he hasn't been hit. It's not like he comes out of a lot of games or misses games. The guy's track record says he plays unless he has a concussion, so it must be bad. Only he knows … Regardless, I really do feel for the guy, not being able to play in the championship game."

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