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Bears ‘didn’t play to our level,’ Israel Idonije admits

Caleb Hanie reaches down recover his fumble fourth quarter. Hanie went 11-for-24 passing with three interceptions Sunday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Caleb Hanie reaches down to recover his fumble in the fourth quarter. Hanie went 11-for-24 passing with three interceptions Sunday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 6, 2012 8:17AM



The Bears won’t soon forget the name of the Kansas City Chiefs ­quarterback.

On the final play of the first half, Tyler Palko — whose first name a couple of Bears defenders couldn’t recall early last week — appeared to throw his seventh interception in three starts. But Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and rookie safety Chris Conte batted the ball down into the arms of 5-8 Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster for a touchdown.

That capped a 16-play, 87-yard drive in a wild first half that included a first-quarter knee injury to running back Matt Forte and a second-quarter, one-play appearance by former Bears quarterback Kyle Orton. The Chiefs tacked on a third-quarter field goal and handed the Bears a devastating 10-3 loss before 61,973 fans at Soldier Field.

“It’s just disappointing because we didn’t play at our level,” defensive end Israel Idonije said. “We didn’t do anything to take the game over.

“They got fortunate [with the Hail Mary]. The ball just rolled their way. Before he threw it up, he said a prayer, and bang.”

But how big is the explosion?

The Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions also lost, remaining tied with the Bears at 7-5. The New York Giants lost, too, to fall to 6-6. The Bears still hold the fifth playoff seed in the NFC.

After tossing three interceptions in a 25-20 loss in Oakland, Caleb Hanie insisted there were “no excuses” for his second NFL start. But Hanie performed even worse in another three-interception game, completing a paltry 11 of 24 passes for 133 yards.

With about six minutes left, though, Hanie completed four consecutive passes for 46 yards, setting up a first-and-10 from the Chiefs’ 13. But receiver Roy Williams dropped a pass in the end zone, and Chiefs safety Jon McGraw intercepted it. The Bears’ defense forced a three-and-out, but Hanie was sacked twice and missed short on a fourth-and-17 pass to an open Earl Bennett.

“I expect to bounce back from this game, personally, and I will do everything to fix the issues that I can fix and help out any way I can,” Hanie said.

But will he get the chance?

Coach Lovie Smith deflected questions about whether the club will bring in a new quarterback. But Chicago native Donovan McNabb is an unrestricted free agent, and he has made clear his hope of landing on a veteran squad.

Asked what he’s looking for on ESPN late last week, McNabb said, “Being surrounded by a great supporting cast.”

Hanie is 29-for-60 (48.3 percent) for 387 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions. His passer rating is 40.8.

McNabb was 1-5 as the Vikings’ starter at the beginning of the
season, but he posted a passer rating of 82.9, completing 60 percent of
his passes.

Current veteran backup Josh
McCown did what he could to support Hanie, but he acknowledged that he wanted a chance to play against the Chiefs.

“As a competitor, yeah, you shouldn’t be in this league if you don’t want to play. So, shoot, of course I want to play,” McCown said. “But whatever team you’re on, you trust the leadership and what they decide. From there, I do whatever I can
to help.”



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