EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. --- It was an almost impossible situation for any quarterback, even an experienced backup like Todd Collins.
The 16-year veteran was forced into Sunday night's 17-3 loss to the Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium in the third quarter after Jay Cutler suffered a concussion while being sacked an NFL-record nine times in the first half.
"That's my job," Collins said. "That's what they pay me to do but I didn't get it done. It was a rough first half and an equally bad second half."
The Giants defense was smelling blood when Collins entered the game, and with good reason. The Bears couldn't protect the quarterback and couldn't run the ball in the first half, which is a time-honored recipe for disaster. Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz responded with a conservative, run-first game plan in the second half It was the right thing to do. The Bears trailed only 3-0 at the time, their defense was playing well and the Giants entered the game with the league's worst special teams units.
"We were just trying to pound it at them and change the tempo," Collins said.
But when Collins faced a third-and-1 at the Giants 48 midway through the third it seemed like an opportunity for him to play-action fake and try to hit Devin Hester or Johnny Knox deep. Instead, Matt Forte ran off right tackle for minus-2 yards and the Bears were forced to punt yet again.
Making it more difficult for Collins is that he rarely gets snaps with the first team offense during practice. While most backup quarterbacks are afforded opportunities to work with the other starters, Cutler takes almost all the snaps as he continues to try to master Martz's offense. That leaves Collins and third-stringer Caleb Hanie sharing snaps while running the scout team, which means they are running the opposing offense's plays against the Bears first-team defense, which is no way to prepare for the pressure Collins faced Sunday night.
Collins suffered a fate similar to Cutler's after being escorted to the sideline after taking a blindside hit from Michael Boley late in the fourth quarter. Hanie mopped up.
"He kind of snapped by neck and back and I landed on my head and neck and got stung," Collins said.
Collins completed four 11 passes for 36 yards with one interception and a quarterback rating of 8.1 on a night in which the Bears offense collapsed. The Bears failed to convert a third down in 13 tries, finished with 110 total yards and head into next week not knowing whether Cutler or Collins will be available against the Panthers.
Still, tough situation or not, Collins accepted the blame and said his performance was not up to par.
"They had the momentum the whole time and we couldn't get it turned around," Collins said. "I had some chances to make plays and I didn't. That's how I look at it."