Caleb Hanie, this is your cue, this is your mission--if you choose to accept it.
With the Bears entering Sunday's game on a five-game winning streak and fans thinking playoffs, you can save the season filling in for injured quarterback Jay Cutler. All you have to do is win a three or four games, and there will be football in January in Chicago.
Then, of course, Cutler likely will be back to bask in the playoff spotlight. But, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
First things first. Let's see how Hanie performs with the season essentially on the line Sunday in Oakland.
On the Bears' second play of the game, Hanie finds Roy Williams for a five-yard gain. Hanie's next completion, on the Bears' second drive, also goes to Williams, this time for 10 yards. Maybe that's one thing he can teach Cutler: finding Williams, who was supposed to be the Bears' big wide receiver addition in the offseason.
FIRST GOOD CALEB MOMENT
He runs for 17 yards for an apparent first down with 7:28 left in the first quarter, but it's wiped out by a personal foul on Tyler Clutts, of course. Get it? Clutts.
FIRST BAD CALEB MOMENT
Facing a 1st and 15, Hanie can't find a receiver, so he rolls out, throws and promptly finds one—wearing an Oakland Raiders uniform. Hey, Caleb, Jay can do that too.
With 4:12 left in the first quarter, Rolando McClain takes down Hanie for an eight-yard loss. Now he knows how Cutler feels.
SECOND BAD CALEB MOMENT
On the Bears' third drive, Hanie has another "what's he doing" moment with 1:36 left in the first when he launches a throw deep to Matt Forte, who's double-covered. Michael Huff picks it off and returns it 24 yards.
FIRST 'HELL YEAH'
With the Bears facing 3rd and 18, Hanie scrambles 24 yards to the Oakland 31. More importantly, it seemed to breathe life into the formerly flaccid Bears. Yes, I said flaccid.
FIRST TOUCHDOWN PASS
Three plays later, Hanie connects on a crossing Johnny Knox for a 29-yard touchdown that gives the Bears their first lead of the game at 7-6.
Hanie throws an ill-advised pass to Kellen Davis on an ill-devised screen in the red zone that is picked off and returned 73 yards by Kamerion Wimbley. It results in a Oakland field goal, Sebastian Janikowski's third of the game, and is essentially a 10-point turnaround, assuming the Bears would have scored a touchdown.
FIRST BIG 'WHAT IF'
With 11:42 left in the game and Bears trailing by 11 and in Oakland territory, Hanie overthrows an open Williams, eventually forcing the Bears to settle for a field goal. Instead of being behind 4 points, it's an eight-point game.
Hanie finds Knox at the Raiders 9 for an 81-yard gain with 2:26 left to give the Bears life. Two plays later, the connects with Davis for a touchdown to pull the Bears within five with 2:11 left.
Despite the late heroics, Hanie and the Bears collectively didn't have what it takes to take down Oakland, as the Raiders ride the foot of Janikowski (six field goals) to beat the Bears and drop them to 7-4.