As The Daily Show's Jon Stewart would say, 'Did not see that coming.'
The Bears' 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Soldier Field was arguably the most perplexing loss in the Lovie Smith era. Even without quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears were nine-point favorites and at home. Except for a 31-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins as 13-point favorites in 2006 -- when the Bears were 7-0 and the Dolphins were 1-6 -- you have to go back to the end of the Ditka era to find a game where the Bears lost as bigger favorites.
And that stunning loss to the Dolphins in 2006 was a lot easier to take than this one. The Bears were still well on their way to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs when Miami coach Nick Saban, with two weeks to prepare, masterminded a colossal upset. That was a bad day at the office. Sunday's loss was fraught with disheartening long-term ramifications:
1. Caleb Hanie, who was expected to be better in his second NFL start, was much worse. He was 11-of-24 for 133 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions for a 23.8 rating.
2. Running back Matt Forte suffered what appears to be a sprained MCL in his right knee after being tackled by Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson -- a direct hit on Forte's knee that had "Kermit Alexander" written all over it. Forte could be out 2-4 weeks or longer.
3. Even considering the absence of Jay Cutler and the injury to Forte in the first quarter, if the Bears couldn't beat a Chiefs team that probably would not have beaten any other NFL team on Sunday, what chance do the 7-5 Bears have of winning three of their final four games to finish 10-6? Even if Marion Barber gives them a semblance of Forte's production, Hanie has to take a giant leap just to be as good as Tyler Palko.
4. The Bears allowed SEVEN sacks to a Chiefs defense that came into the game with 13 all season in 11 games. Rookie linebacker justin Houston had no sacks before Sunday. He had three against the Bears. It seemed like the Chiefs pulled a page out of Dom Capers' Packers defensive playbook and totally confused the Bears as to which defenders near the line of scrimmage were rushing the passer.
5. The road got a little tougher Sunday when the Broncos and Tim Tebow rallied to beat the Vikings for their fifth consecutive victory. The Bears play the red-hot Broncos in Denver on Sunday. Then they face the Seahawks, who just whipped the Eagles 31-14 on Thursday night. And then they face the currently unbeaten Packers.
Reaction from the Bears was swift and predictable.
''We haven't played football like that this year,'' coach Lovie Smith said.
Most people watching both teams didn't even consider it football. But anyway ...
''I know we've lost some of the games. I'm normally talking about how all three phases helped us win the football game.''
Instead, he could only lament the mistakes that got him beat.
The Bears were 0-for-11 on third-down conversions.
They allowed the Chiefs to convert a ''Hail Mary'' pass into a 38-yard touchdown when Brian Urlacher inadvertently batted down Tyler Palko's pass to running back Dexter McCluster to give the Chiefs a 7-3 half-time lead. And while that was a fluke, they also failed to intercept Palko at all on Sunday. He came into the game with six interceptions in his previous two games.
And while special teams did get the Bears field position for their only points of the game when Devin Hester's 44-yard punt return led to Robbie Gould's 32-yard field goal -- Gould also missed a 41-yard attempt late in the third quarter.
''Offensively we didn't get anything done,'' Smith said. ''It's hard to maintain drives when you don't convert on third downs. They got too much pressure on us. We did a little bit in the running game [Barber and Kahlil Bell combined for 78 yards on 18 carries], but just never got anything going.
''I know Caleb Hanie will be blamed for a lot of it. But it's us as an offense overall. We didn't perform the way we needed to.''
Hanie's performance was the biggest disappointment. He was expected to pick up where he left off after a strong second half against the Raiders last week, but instead struggled with accuracy from the start. He had some extenuating circumstances, but had he been strong in the early portion of the game, he wouldn't have had the problems he had later in the game.
''Yeah, it felt a little slow at the beginning,'' Hanie said. ''I had a couple of drives there in the first half where you've got to get the ball in the end zone. Just missed opportunities.''
Hanie had some bad luck. He had a four-yard touchdown pass to Barber in the first half nullified by an illegal formation penalty. He lost an apparent touchdown pass to Roy Williams in the fourth quarter when a sharp pass over the middle in traffic deflected off Williams hands, was tipped by a defender and intercepted by Chiefs safety Jon McGraw with 4:01 to play.
''It was my fault. I've to make those plays,'' Williams said. ''Did that lose the game? Nope. There were a lot of things that happened before that that we could have stacked on. But in my mind, yes it does. In the fans' mind, yes it does. So put it on me.''
Hanie did not blame Williams for the unfortunate turn of events.
''Those things are going to happen,'' he said. ''People like to focus on one p lay in particular that makes or breaks the game. But there's a lot of different plays you can point at that we should have done better on. It's just one of those tough breaks right there.''
The Bears are enduring a lot of tough breaks recently -- perhaps finally evening things up after a fortuitous 2011 paved their way to the NFC Championship Game last year. Somehow they're going to have to turn their luck around in a hurry. Lovie Smith's stoic manner usually helps the Bears respond to adversity. But right now, it looks like that is asking a little bit too much.