Caleb Hanie spent most of the 2010 season as the No. 3 quarterback before he was thrust into the spotlight in the third quarter of the Bears' 21-14 loss to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. He said being No. 3 had no impact on his preparedness for the impromptu role in that game.
''It wouldn't have made a difference,'' Hanie said Monday in the Bears lockerroom. ''Jay gets all the reps with the offense. Me and Todd [Collins], we split the scout-team reps. So last week we were splitting [snaps in ] the Packers' offense.''
Hanie was impressive, especially considering the difficult situation he was in. But two mistakes cost him a chance to be a hero -- an interception by B.J. Raji that Raji returned 18 yards for a touchdown, and an interception by Sam Shields at the Packers 12-yard line on a fourth-and-five play that clinched the victory for the Packers with 37 seconds to go.
It was a bittersweet moment for Hanie -- a chance to play, but ultimately a loss.
''That's a good way of putting it -- kind of bittersweet,'' Hanie said. ''I got the opportunity, looked good at times, but didn't finish the job. I'd love to have an opportunity to get a lot of reps in practice and compete in the games. With the timing of the offense, it's so critical. So I'd love to get another opportunity.''
Facing the Packers defense at any time would be a tough chore, but with a berth in the Super Bowl, it was even more difficult.
''They're tough,'' Hanie said. ''They're a good defense. They fly around. They're relentless. Matthews is relentless. [Charles] Woodson is just a great player. Shields had a good night. He's real fast guy and made some good plays with the ball.''
Not much he could do on the Raji interception. The Packers threw him a curve by dropping the 337-pound nose tackle into coverage.
''We knew they dropped guys off, but they brought the corner in [Shields] and dropped him off so it was a little different,'' Hanie said. ''It was a good job by him. Good play. They kind of lucked into it, but it was a good play.''
When Todd Collins replaced Jay Cutler in the third quarter, the Bears called three straight pass plays -- all of them incompletions and one of them nearly intercepted. But when Hanie came in, the Bears called two running plays before Hanie threw his first pass.
That helped, Hanie said.
''It felt good to just get the snap and not fumble it,'' Hanie said when asked about his first snap of the game. ''It felt good. It calmed my nerves a little bit.''