Without Cutler, Bears Fall To Raiders
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Playing against a fill-in quarterback making his first career NFL start, the Oakland Raiders managed to win despite struggling to punch the ball into the end zone.
Sebastian Janikowski kicked a team-record six field goals and the Raiders took advantage of three interceptions from Chicago’s Caleb Hanie to beat the Bears 25-20 Sunday.
Carson Palmer threw for 301 yards and Michael Bush iced the game with a touchdown run in the fourth quarter to lead the Raiders (7-4) to their third straight win against a Bears team missing starting quarterback Jay Cutler.
The Raiders settled for field goals on their first six trips inside the Chicago 30 before Bush’s 3-yard run made it 25-13 with 3:47 to play.
Hanie struggled in his first career start for the Bears (7-4) in place of Cutler, who broke his right thumb last week in Chicago’s sixth straight win to put a major obstacle into what had been a promising season. Hanie, who nearly led a comeback in last season’s NFC title game, had thrown only 14 regular season passes since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2008 and looked like a career backup for much of this game.
Hanie completed 18 of 35 passes for 254 yards and three interceptions, including a crushing one late in the first half when the Bears were deep in Oakland territory and on the verge of taking the lead.
But Hanie also threw two TD passes, including a 5-yarder to Kellen Davis with 2:11 to play that cut the deficit to 25-20. That was set up by an 81-yarder to Johnny Knox.
The game ended when Hanie botched a spike play with 4 seconds left at his 46. Instead of immediately spiking the ball to stop the clock, he took an extra step back and hesitated, leading to a game-ending intentional grounding call.
Bush was held to 69 yards on the ground by Chicago’s strong defense and Palmer was sacked four times and threw an interception as the Raiders missed injured big-play threats Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore.
But they still managed to maintain their hold on first place in the AFC West by winning their third straight game, getting field goals of 40, 47, 42, 19, 37 and 44 yards to break the team record Janikowski shared with Jeff Jaeger.
They were also helped by another big-legged kicker. With Oakland at its own 20 early in the fourth quarter and Devin Hester set for a return, Shane Lechler punted the ball over Hester’s head and it rolled into the end zone for a team-record 80-yard punt.
Hanie managed to drive the Bears into field goal range on that drive and Robbie Gould’s 53-yard field goal cut Oakland’s lead to 18-13 with 7:17 to play.
The Raiders answered with Palmer throwing a 47-yard pass to Louis Murphy on third-and-4 from midfield to set up Bush’s touchdown.
Despite Hanie’s interceptions, the Bears were still in the game trailing 12-7 at the break because the defense kept the Raiders out of the end zone.
Hanie’s first interception came as he tried to throw the ball away but gave it right to Stanford Routt at the Bears 33. That set up Janikowski’s second field goal to give Oakland a 6-0 lead.
Hanie erased that with two big plays on one drive in the second quarter. He scrambled 24 yards on a third-and-18 and then hit Knox on a 29-yard slant against the blitz on another third down for the touchdown that gave the Bears a 7-6 lead.
With Chicago down 9-7, Hanie had a second down at the Oakland 7. He attempted a throwback screen to Davis that was tipped by Aaron Curry and went right Kamerion Wimbley, who returned 83 yards before being dragged down by a horse-collar tackle by Lance Louis. Oakland settled for a 19-yard field goal.
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