Four straight losses have sunk the Chicago Bears to playoff long shots at 7-7. Here is a timeline of how they got here:
1. CUTLER BREAKS THUMB
Nov. 20 at Soldier Field: Attempting to make a tackle after throwing an interception to San Diego Chargers cornerback Antoine Cason, in part because Johnny Knox slipped on the route, Cutler suffered a Bennett’s fracture in his right thumb that requires surgical repair in Vail, Colo. Cutler’s injury thrusts Caleb Hanie into the starting lineup. The team hasn’t won a game in the four weeks Cutler has been out of the lineup.
2. HANIE'S ROUGH FIRST START
Nov. 27 at Oakland Coliseum: Hanie tossed two interceptions in the first quarter, and the Bears' first five drives resulted in two turnovers and three three-and-outs. After the slow start, Hanie hit Knox for a 29-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 7-6 lead toward the end of the first half. But Hanie’s third pick of the game led to another Oakland score. Hanie put on a promising performance, passing for 254 yards and two TDs in the loss.
3. FORTE INJURES KNEE
Dec. 4 at Soldier Field: Making a cut on an weak-side run in the first quarter, running back Matt Forte was slammed in the knee by Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson. The hit resulted in Forte leaving the game after just five carries with a Grade 2 MCL sprain. Forte hasn’t played since, and says he doesn’t expect be back for the rest of the season.
4. PALKO HAIL MARY
Dec. 4 at Soldier Field: In the same game Forte was injured, Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko threw his first career touchdown pass on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half. Waiting in the end zone for the pass, Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher attempted to knock the ball down, but safety Chris Conte knocked it right into the hands of Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster. That pass was the game’s only TD. The Bears eventually lost 10-3.
5. BARBER GAFFE NO. 1
Dec. 11 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High: With the Bears leading 10-7 and the Denver Broncos out of timeouts, Barber ran out of bounds to stop the clock with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter. The mistake gave Denver extra time to mount a comeback and tie the game 10-10 at the end of regulation. Even Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow said, “I might have thanked the Lord” when Barber made that mistake.
6. BARBER GAFFE NO. 2
Dec. 11 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High: In overtime of the same game, Barber fumbled just five plays into Chicago’s possession, and that led to the Broncos hitting a 51-yard field goal with 8:34 left in OT for the victory.
7. SAM HURD ARREST
Dec. 14 at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Rosemont, Ill.: Undercover officers arrest Hurd on federal drug charges. Authorities say Hurd allegedly attempted to purchase cocaine and marijuana in North Texas. The arrest sparks national conversation and a firestorm of controversy at the team’s training facilities in Lake Forest. Many of Hurd’s teammates are shocked by the arrest. Clearly the spectacle of the arrest led unwanted distractions.
7. KNOX INJURY
Sunday at Soldier Field: Just three plays into Chicago’s second possession on Sunday, Knox caught a 17-yard pass from Hanie on a slant route and fumbled. In the scramble for the loose ball, Knox was clocked by Anthony Hargrove in a collision that caused the receiver’s body to jolt backwards violently. The hit led to Knox suffering a lower back injury that will require surgery. Knox became the team’s fifth offensive starter to go down with a significant injury.