Chicago Bears: Hail Mary
December, 4, 2011
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesChris Conte said Dexter McCluster wasn't boxed out, which allowed him to score the TD.CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher has no regrets about the way he and safety Chris Conte tried to defend Kansas City quarterback Tyler Palko's last second Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half on Sunday.
With two seconds left on the game clock and the Chiefs facing third-and-ten from the Bears 38-yard line, Palko heaved a ball into the far right side of the end zone that Urlacher and Conte batted down right into the waiting arms of Kansas City running back Dexter McCluster for a touchdown.
It proved to be the only touchdown scored in Kansas City's 10-3 victory.
Urlacher explained after the game what Bears defenders are taught to do in that situation.
"(We did the) same thing we always do: bat it down," Urlacher said. "The guy happens to catch that one. About 100 times, first time anyone's caught one.'
"It's a good play. I was there. We knocked it down. Chris (Conte) and I both did it. I don't know if it went straight down or backwards. I guess I should've caught it or tried to. It's not what we do. I've never done that, just tried to knock it down."
The general rule in a Hail Mary scenario requires the defenders not leaping up to make a play on the ball be responsible for boxing out the other receivers in the area. When every wideout near and in the end zone are accounted for, it's supposed to eliminate the possibility of an offensive player catching a batted down ball.
"We were doing what we were supposed to do," Conte said. "We were supposed to knock the ball down and he (McCluster) didn't get boxed out. That's what happened."
At five-foot-eight, McCluster is a difficult player to box out because he runs so low to the ground. Plus, he had the added advantage of being a running back, a position defenders are less likely to account for during a Hail Mary because wideouts are almost always the intended targets.
Regardless of the reasons behind the success of the Hail Mary, it proved to be too much for the Bears to overcome.
"To be honest, once I saw how he was going to hit the ball down, I knew it was coming right to me," McCluster said. "So, I just prepared myself for it. It fell right into my lap."