CHICAGO — Jay Cutler was doing just fine, leading the Bears up and down the field — right until he left the game with a pulled hamstring.
Now, Chicago might have to get by without its quarterback.
Cutler got injured trying to make a tackle after an interception, and the Bears fell to the Arizona Cardinals 48-23 on Sunday.
Cutler walked to the locker room after he was stiff-armed trying to take down Tony Jefferson on a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the first half and did not return to the game. That put his status for next week’s game at Seattle — and beyond — in question.
"It takes a while to run tests. Our medical people will inform me and then I will inform you," coach John Fox said, when asked if he expects his quarterback to play again this season.
Cutler was not available for comment afterward.
Carson Palmer threw for four touchdowns, and the Cardinals pulled away in the second half for an easy victory.
Palmer connected with Larry Fitzgerald for three of his TDs, giving the quarterback seven in two games after returning last week against New Orleans from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cut short his season after just six games a year ago.
Palmer was 17 of 24 with 185 yards to improve to 15-2 in his last 17 starts. Fitzgerald had 112 yards, and with those three TDs, he matched a career high he set against Philadelphia in the conference final seven years ago.
David Johnson returned the opening kickoff a club-record 108 yards and added a rushing TD, and Chris Johnson ran for 72 yards with Andre Ellington sidelined by a sprained right knee for the Cardinals (2-0).
And, coach Bruce Arians gained a measure of revenge after the Bears hired Marc Trestman over him in January 2013.
Cutler’s injury was the biggest development in a game that included several big plays and ended with Chicago (0-2) remaining winless under Fox. The seven touchdowns allowed tied the franchise record for the Bears, who had never given up 48 points in a home game. They also tied a club record with 170 penalty yards.
Cutler completed his first eight passes for 120 yards before getting picked off. He threw a 48-yard touchdown to Josh Bellamy. But the injury on Jefferson’s interception return was another big blow for a team that was already missing its top receiver with Alshon Jeffery out because of a hamstring problem.
Now, the Bears could be missing their quarterback when they visit the defending NFC champion Seahawks. That would likely mean a start for Jimmy Clausen, who was 14 of 23 for 121 yards after Cutler went down.
"You’ve just got to keep pushing forward," Clausen said. "I felt the air was deflated a little bit, but guys did a great job just trying to (say) `let’s go, let’s go, let’s go’ and pick up the tempo a little bit, try to move the chains."
Clausen’s long pass on the opening drive of the second half got picked off by Patrick Peterson, leading to a 28-yard touchdown catch by Fitzgerald that made it 35-20. David Johnson added a 13-yard scoring run to make it a 22-point game, sending Arizona to a lopsided victory after a wild first half.
Along with Johnson’s team record return on the game’s opening kickoff, there were two long pass-interference penalties by Chicago’s Kyle Fuller and Alan Ball that led to touchdowns for the Cardinals. The Bears also got a pair of field goals in the final minute of the half thanks to a fumble recovery on a punt and an interception by Jared Allen.
All that was overshadowed by Cutler’s injury.
NOTES: Cardinals WR J.J. Nelson left with a shoulder injury. LB LaMarr Woodley also hurt his shoulder but returned to the game. … For Chicago, Bellamy’s TD was also his first career reception. He is in his fourth year in the league. … Bears rookie Jeremy Langford scored his first TD on a 1-yard run. … The 108-yard kickoff return was the longest ever allowed by Chicago.