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Jay Cutler exits Chicago Bears' loss with neck injury

Nothing is more important than protecting your quarterback. The Chicago Bears are aware of that, but they can't seem to do much about it.

Jay Cutler exited Sunday's 21-14 loss to Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter with a neck injury, the Bears announced.

Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen hit Cutler hard above the neck on a fourth-down pass play, drawing a flag from the officials. Cutler finished the drive before being examined by Bears doctors. He finished the game on the sideline with his helmet off.

"I can't really speak on it right now," Bears coach Lovie Smith said afterward. "He took a hit."

Cutler finished 22-of-44 passing for 260 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. He was replaced by Jason Campbell, who led the Bears on a 10-play, 76-yard scoring march capped by a 16-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Marshall to pull Chicago within seven points.

It wasn't enough, though, as the Bears (8-5) watched their hold on the NFC North slip into perilous territory. The Green Bay Packers (8-4) can grab sole possession of first with a win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday night.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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