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Hoge’s Notebook: Hail Mary Dooms Bears

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Brian Urlacher and Chris Conte deflect a ball into the hands of Dexter McCluster to complete a Hail Mary Sunday. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Brian Urlacher and Chris Conte deflect a ball into the hands of Dexter McCluster to complete a Hail Mary Sunday. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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By Adam Hoge-

CHICAGO (CBS) That was ugly.

In fact, Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was so ugly, it will likely go down as one of the worst home losses in Bears’ history. After the game, some media members were calling it the worst game in the NFL in years.

For the Bears, it’s just one loss, but it’s tough to swallow because a superb defensive performance was spoiled by terrible offense and an unfortunate Hail Mary at the end of the first half that accounted for the only touchdown in the game.

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With time expiring at the end of the first half, Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko heaved a prayer to the end zone. Brian Urlacher was in perfect position to either catch the ball or knock it down, but Chris Conte got a hand on the ball behind him and together they knocked it right into the arms of Dexter McCluster, giving the Chiefs a 7-3 halftime lead.

“We knocked it down,” Urlacher said. “I think Chris and I both hit it. I don’t know if it went straight down or backwards, but I guess I should have caught it, or tried to. But that’s just not what we do. I’ve never done that so just try to knock it down.”

Lovie Smith, however, said they leave it up to the players to either knock it down or try to catch it on Hail Mary’s.

“Ideally, you don’t want them to catch the football so you have the option to do either,” Smith said. “As a general rule, knock the ball down. If you feel like you can make a clean catch, you can do that.”

The head coach was also questioned about calling two timeouts before the two minute warning, which helped give the Chiefs time to throw the Hail Mary. One was called by Charles Tillman because the defense appeared to have the wrong personnel on the field, while the other was called by Smith in an attempt to get the ball back with time on the clock.

“No not really,” Smith said when asked if that was a risky strategy. “We’re trying to get the ball back. Convert on third down, we have plenty of time to go down. We were thinking about getting the football for us to have a drive right before the half.”

Still, considering how poorly the Bears were moving the ball on offense, a two-minute drill for the Bears didn’t seem very promising.

Hanie At Risk?

Quarterback Caleb Hanie really struggled Sunday completing just 11-of-24 passes for 133 yards and three interceptions.

His performance has many wondering if the Bears will try to add another quarterback – possibly Donovan McNabb.

“I’m not going to come in here and tell you we’re going to start making changes,” Smith said. “I think you know me a little bit better than that. We’re going to evaluate our situation and see where we need to go from here.”

And while he certainly didn’t single Hanie out, Smith didn’t exactly give him a vote of confidence either.

“I’m not feeling good about anyone,” he said. “None of us are feeling good right now. I know a lot of the blame will be placed on (Hanie), but no one in the locker room is feeling good about what we did today.”

Huge Drop

In fairness to Hanie, he did appear to throw a game-tying touchdown pass with 4:10 left in the game, but Roy Williams dropped it and it was picked off by Kansas City safety Jon McGraw.

Williams has had a number of drops this season, but none bigger than that one.

“I didn’t see it until late, but that’s a routine play for me,” Williams said. I make that play all the time, catching it behind me when I see it late. That’s the same thing that happened. I just saw it late. Had it. Thought it had it. It just came off.”

adam hoge Hoges Notebook: Hail Mary Dooms Bears

Adam Hoge

Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.

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