Cutler, Rivers say little about past issues

This time, Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers had little to say.

If there is any lingering ill will between them, the

quarterbacks weren’t interested in discussing it as the Chicago

Bears prepared to host the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

”One little incident that got blown into a huge deal,” is how

Rivers described it.

It happened on a big stage, in front a national audience on

Christmas Eve in 2007, when Cutler was with Denver.

ESPN cameras caught Rivers yelling at him from the sideline

after he threw an incomplete pass on a fourth down during the

fourth quarter of a 23-3 Chargers victory, and Chargers linebacker

Matt Wilhelm mockingly waving toward him.

When Denver and San Diego played early the following season, the

quarterbacks didn’t say much to each other during the pregame coin

toss. Later that year, Cutler made his feelings about Rivers clear

on a Fox Sports Net show when he said, ”I don’t like how he

carries himself. I don’t like some of the stuff he does on the

field.”

On Wednesday, Cutler didn’t have much to say. He basically

sidestepped questions about the incident with Rivers, giving mostly

short answers.

Where did the rivalry start? ”I don’t know,” Cutler said.

Was it during that 2007 game? ”I don’t remember,” he said.

Do you miss playing against him? ”No,” Cutler said.

Have your feelings about him changed?

”I haven’t played him for years so it’s kind of different,”

said Cutler, who last faced the Chargers in 2008. ”It’s something

that’s in the past. Defensively, he’s a great player. He’s still

putting up big numbers, and they’re going to throw the ball down

the field. The way we’re playing defensively, hopefully we have a

chance to shut him down.”

As for his relationship with Rivers? When asked if he’s had a

chance to soothe things with him, Cutler said, ”I don’t know him.

You have his number, so we can talk?”

Rivers said he’d gladly talk to Cutler, but he wasn’t about to

pass along his number on a conference call.

”We’ve spoken in the past since then, whether it be the coin

toss or the postgame,” Rivers said. ”It wasn’t as if we were big

buddies beforehand and then had a big falling off. I mean, he and I

had minimal conversations even before all that got blown way out of

proportion. But I have nothing against Jay. I think he’s a heck of

a player. One thing you know about him, he’s a super competitor.

One thing he’s doing right now is he’s leading his team to win four

in a row, and I’m fighting like crazy to just try to get a

win.”

The Bears are on a four-game win streak and are looking like

strong contenders after a rough start. They pounded Detroit last

week, intercepting Matthew Stafford four times while coming away

with six turnovers in a 37-13 victory. That put them in a

second-place tie with the Lions in the NFC North, which would have

seemed hard to believe just a few weeks earlier given the way they

were playing.

The defense has cut down on big plays. The run-pass balance on

offense is better. The Bears are getting the ball out of Cutler’s

hands quicker. Matt Forte is having a career year, and the blocking

has improved, although the line did struggle against Detroit.

The Chargers? Well, they’re going in the opposite direction

after a 4-1 start. They’re short-handed on the offensive line,

thanks to injuries, and Rivers just hasn’t been himself.

He’s the league’s fifth-leading passer with 2,743 yards, but he

also has more interceptions than anyone with 15. He got sacked six

times against Oakland last week and now ranks third in that

category with 25 – two more than Cutler.

It’s safe to say finding ways to keep the ball away from

opponents and stay on his feet rank higher on the priority list

than any issues he’s had with Cutler.

”We haven’t had much time to worry about that,” Rivers said.

”We’re just trying to find a way to win a game. It’s been a rough

stretch.”

Notes: Devin Hester said he was getting ready to come back into

the game last week when Major Wright and Charles Tillman returned

interceptions for touchdowns early in the third quarter to put away

the Lions. Hester returned three punts for 122 yards in the first

half even though he had strep throat, swollen tonsils and a fever

over 103, not to mention a sprained ankle. .. The Bears continue to

hold Julius Peppers out of practice because of a sprained knee.