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Green Bay Packers struggled to stop Chicago Bears QB Caleb Hanie

Jan. 23, 2011
 
Green Bay Packers 21, Chicago Bears 14: Postgame a...
Green Bay Packers 21, Chicago Bears 14: Postgame a...: Kareem Copeland and Mike Vandermause discuss a game in which the Packers' offense struggled but defense and special teams saved the day.
Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) and nose tackle B.J. Raji (90) pressure Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie (12) during the fourth quarter of the NFC championship game at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

Under siege

Playoff games in which the Green Bay Packers were outgained by the most yards in the fourth quarter

Diff. Opponent Date
-165 Raiders Jan. 14, 1968
-153 Bears Jan. 23, 2011
-103 49ers Jan. 6, 1996
-94 Eagles Jan. 9, 2011
-86 Vikings Jan. 9, 2005

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Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie is not the first Caleb to play in the NFL. Thatís likely Caleb Martin of the old Chicago Cardinals.

But he is the first to throw a major scare at the Green Bay Packers, and thus it is understandable if they wish their first encounter with Hanie is their last.

The Bears went down firing in the fourth quarter of their 21-14 loss to the Packers in the NFC championship game at Soldier Field on Sunday. That they were down to a third-string quarterback seemingly didnít matter.

Hanie entered the fray late in the third quarter. He handed off twice to running back Matt Forte before beginning a frantic final 15 minutes that had fans and participants alike trying to catch their breath.

A virtual unknown, Hanie completed 13 of 20 passes for 153 yards. More importantly, he led the Bears to two touchdowns and had his team on the doorstep of possible third before throwing his second interception with 37 seconds left.

The undrafted free agent had thrown all of 14 passes in an undistinguished career that began in 2008. He had never attempted more than five passes in any of the four games in which he played.

No matter. The 25-year-old spurred the Bears to 169 yards in the fourth quarter, more than the 132 they earned in the first three periods combined.

Hanie oversaw touchdown drives of 67 and 60 yards and was 42 yards into another before cornerback Sam Shields ended the threat with his second interception of the day. Hanie's 32-yard completion to receiver Johnny Knox set up a Chester Taylor run that pulled the Bears to 14-7. His 35-yarder to receiver Earl Bennett made it 21-14 with 4:43 to go.

Those completions resulted in two of the seven first downs Chicago earned through the air in the quarter. Starter Jay Cutler, who left with a knee injury, and backup Todd Collins, who was pulled after four consecutive incompletions, managed just four.

Heck, Hanie even manufactured the Bearsí only third-down conversion. He hit tight end Greg Olsen for a 10-yard gain on Chicagoís last possession.

Rare is the backup quarterback who has tried to engineer a comeback against the Packers in the playoffs. The 49ers' Elvis Grbac got a shot when he subbed for an injured Steve Young in a 1997 divisional game. Kansas City's Pete Beathard got his feet wet late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl I. The Giants' Charlie Conerly replaced starter Y.A. Tittle for a few series in the 1961 NFL championship game.

But thatís about it. None were successful, and certainly none tested the Packersí mettle as did Hanie.

The 169 yards Chicago amassed in the fourth quarter was the second most by a Green Bay opponent in the postseason. Only the Oakland Raiders, with 179 yards in Super Bowl II in January 1968, piled up more.

Yards aside, the number of plays the Bears ran kept Green Bay backpedaling. Hanie got off 28 snaps, 13 on the Packersí side of the field.

Only Young, with 33 fourth-quarter plays in a divisional game in San Francisco in 1996, had more in a playoff game against Green Bay.

With the Packers' Aaron Rodgers having an off day, Hanie owned the best passer rating at 65.2 Had his two interceptions been incompletions, he would have been at 104.8 pending the outcome of the gameís final seconds.

Extra points

♦ The Packers (2-of-11) and the Bears (1-of-13) were abysmal on third down. Combined, their success rate of 12.5 percent was the lowest in a Packers playoff game behind even the 16.7 percent of New York (1-of-12) and Green Bay (3-of-12) in the 1939 championship game.

♦ Brad Maynardís nine punts were the most by a Packers opponent in a playoff game since Len Younce had 10 in the 1944 NFL championship game.

♦ The late Caleb Martin was a tackle who played 10 games with the 1947 Chicago Cardinals.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of ďGreen Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,Ē a statistical history of the Packers. E-mail him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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