Caleb Hanie’s 3 INTs, last-play blunder show his inexperience
By Sean Jensen firstname.lastname@example.org November 27, 2011 9:30PM
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Kamerion Wimbley #96 of the Oakland Raiders returns an interception seventy four yards against the Chicago Bears at O.co Coliseum on November 27, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Updated: January 27, 2012 1:40AM
OAKLAND, Calif. — Too little,
With the Bears trailing by 12 points with less than four minutes left
Sunday, quarterback Caleb Hanie — who was making his first NFL start — connected with receiver Johnny Knox on an improbable 81-yard pass on third-and-16. He completed that drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis.
But the Bears’ ensuing onside kick, while dramatic, was recovered by Oakland Raiders tight end David Ausberry, who secured their 25-20 victory at O.co Coliseum.
The loss dropped the Bears to 7-4, tying them with the Detroit Lions for second place in the NFC North. They’ll host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Soldier Field.
‘‘It just makes us hungrier to play the Chiefs and start another streak,’’ defensive tackle Amobi Okoye said. ‘‘It’s a team game and all, but [the
defense] didn’t do enough.’’
Robbie Gould pulled the Bears to 18-13 by making fourth-quarter field goals of 50 and 53 yards. But on third-and-four from midfield, Raiders receiver Louis Murphy beat cornerback Tim Jennings down the right sideline and hauled in a 47-yard catch that set up a three-yard touchdown by running back Michael Bush to make it 25-13.
‘‘It was obviously one of the key plays in the game,’’ said defensive end Julius Peppers, whose dominant performance was highlighted by two sacks. ‘‘[But] it didn’t lose the game for us, and it didn’t win the game for them. We had opportunities to make plays.’’
Most of those chances, though, were squandered on offense.
Although he’s 26 and in his fourth NFL season, Hanie’s inexperience was evident, including an interception on a forced pass intended for running back Matt Forte in the first quarter.
But what happened on the final play reinforced his rawness. Hanie feigned a spike, waited, then tossed the ball at the feet of center Roberto Garza. He was flagged for intentional grounding, and the final four seconds were run off, in accordance with NFL rules.
‘‘We didn’t have any fakes or anything like that,’’ said Hanie, who completed 18 of 36 passes for 254 yards with two touchdowns and three
interceptions. ‘‘That was just my fault.’’
Despite a solid effort by the Bears’ defense, the team couldn’t overcome Hanie’s three interceptions, the most costly of which came at the end of the first half.
With the Bears trailing 9-7 and facing a second-and-one from the Raiders’ 7-yard line with 35 seconds left in the half, Hanie rolled right, then attempted a pass across the field to Davis. But linebacker Aaron Curry tipped the ball, and linebacker
Kamerion Wimbley intercepted it and sprinted down the field.
Forte, who had made a tackle on an earlier interception, was blocked, but right tackle Lance Louis hustled down the field, dove at Wimbley and wrestled him to the ground. Although he was flagged for a horse-collar penalty, Louis prevented the touchdown.
‘‘I was just trying to make a play for the team,’’ Louis said. ‘‘It’s been a while since I’ve tackled somebody.’’
And it had been awhile since the Bears lost a game. But with their winning streak snapped at five games, they’ll try to start a new one in a heightened playoff race.