If Jay Cutler is nervous heading into his first play-off game, it was hard to tell this week. It actually was hard to tell anything about the quarterback's mindset heading into the post-season.
This time, Cutler avoided the deep route. "Guys are business as usual," he said.
The Chicago Bears will make their first play-off appearance in four years when they host the Seattle Seahawks tonight, and Cutler will get his first taste of the post-season. So it was not exactly business as usual around Halas Hall on Friday.
The Bears (11-5) are here thanks to a dramatic turnaround that led to the NFC North championship and a first-round bye. Cutler, meanwhile, is leading a winning team for the first time since his senior year in high school.
Now, the Bears are staring at a team that slipped into the play-offs with a 7-9 record and knocked out New Orleans last week thanks to a superb effort by Matt Hasselbeck.
The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback threw for four touchdowns as the Seahawks stunned the Saints 41-36. Now, he will be making his club-record 11th post-season start.
"As a player, it's the stage that you love to play on," Hasselbeck said. "It's so much fun. I've been fortunate to get the opportunity to play in a bunch of play-off games, and you never forget them."
Hasselbeck's performance against New Orleans was a sharp contrast to his previous start against Atlanta when he was replaced by Charlie Whitehurst.
Hasselbeck's first season under Pete Carroll has had ups and downs and, with an expiring contract, his future is uncertain.
Carroll has said he wants him back. Hasselbeck has said he wants to play for a winner, whether it is Seattle or elsewhere.
There are no questions about Cutler's future in Chicago, even after a rocky start to the season.
He got sacked six times in a 23-20 loss to Seattle. The Bears were in the middle of a 1-3 slide, but they are a different team these days.
They settled on their starting offensive line and it all added up to seven wins in eight games.
"We're in a good situation now," Cutler said. "We've just got to take advantage of it."
In tonight's other play-off game, the New York Jets travel to face the New England Patriots.