Lovie Smith defends decision

Updated: November 29, 2011, 3:16 AM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith refused Monday to criticize the play that led to the Oakland Raiders' game-changing interception on Sunday, but former Bears coach Mike Ditka didn't think the play was very well designed.

On a second-and-one from the Oakland seven with the Raiders leading 9-7 late in the second quarter, quarterback Caleb Hanie -- subbing for the injured Jay Cutler -- threw a tight end screen pass intended for Kellen Davis. Aaron Curry tipped the ball and Kamerion Wimbley picked it off and returned it to the Bears' 12-yard line. A penalty moved it to the six, and another Oakland field goal resulted in a 12-7 halftime lead.

"I was disappointed in the play call at the goal line," Ditka said Monday on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on ESPN Radio. "There's no question about it. The throw back, it wasn't a very well designed play. Nobody left the tight end. The tight end tried to sneak out, they threw it back to him. It was intercepted.

"That changed the whole tempo of the football game. Then again, if you don't have enough confidence to believe you can pound it in from that yard line, then you have to look at the play being called. That's all."

Curry wasn't fooled by the play. In fact, he was expecting it.

"I'll never forget seeing it on film and saying, 'That's their go-to play. If they need these points, that's their play,'" he told reporters Sunday, according to a story on the San Francisco Chronicle website. "Then I saw the formation on the field and I was like, 'This is easy, I'm just going to wait for them to throw it to me.'"

Smith preferred to credit Curry rather than criticize offensive coordinator Mike Martz for calling the play.

"You have to say it was a great play by their guy to tip the ball," Smith said. "We had an opportunity. And it's like that most plays, a defender is a second away from making a play.

"It could go either way. Those things happen. Of course, too bad for us it did at the time. We'll keep running our offense and hopefully next time we'll be able to convert."

Smith said there's no merit to criticism of the play.

"It didn't work, so of course you're going to get criticized when something doesn't work," he said. "Next time it will."

ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg contributed to this report.

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