A most difficult week ended in the most appropriate fashion for the Chicago Bears — with a blowout loss.
So much for the idea that they would band together in the wake of receiver Sam Hurd's drug arrest and give their fading playoff hopes a boost. The Bears are just about out of it after a 38-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, and this one was ugly on so many fronts.
Receiver Johnny Knox left the field on the cart with a back injury in the game's opening minutes, backup quarterback Caleb Hanie struggled again, and Chicago got outscored 31-0 in the second half on the way to its fourth straight loss. All that came just days after Hurd was arrested on federal drug charges and subsequently cut by the team.
"It has been a tough week," cornerback Charles Tillman said.
Make that a tough month, actually.
The Bears (7-7) looked as though they were a lock for the playoffs just a few weeks ago, but back then Jay Cutler was healthy. So was Matt Forte, and without its two best players on offense, Chicago was a mess.
Losing Knox doesn't help, either. He was injured trying to recover his own fumble following an early catch and is scheduled for surgery to stabilize a vertebra in his lower to mid-back on Monday. The Bears said the injury is not career-threatening.
"He has total movement throughout his body, has total use of all his extremities, which is good," Smith said. "We're doing tests right now. He has total movement. He's not paralyzed or anything."
That was about the only good news for the Bears, who have been in a free fall ever since Cutler broke his thumb in a victory over San Diego last month. They're winless since then.
Losing Forte two weeks later against Kansas City certainly didn't help, but that doesn't completely explain the collapse.
"Yeah, I'm mad," linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "This is not our team. This is not how we're supposed to play."
Things were particularly bad in the second half.
Seattle's Red Bryant returned an interception 20 yards for the go-ahead TD in the third quarter — one of four picks by Seattle — and the Seahawks kept their faint playoff hopes alive.
Hanie was hit hard on the play by K.J. Wright and threw the ball right into Bryant's arms as Seattle (7-7) scored two touchdowns in a 50-second span early in the third quarter to take control of the game.
Brandon Browner returned another interception 42 yards for a TD in the final quarter.
The Seahawks, who had four sacks and a fumble recovery, got a pair of touchdown runs from Marshawn Lynch, and Tarvaris Jackson finished 19 of 31 for 227 yards after going 4 of 12 for 51 yards in the first half.
"Until someone tells us we're eliminated or something like that, we'll continue to play, but there's disappointment right now," Smith said.
There's not much hope, either.
The Bears visit Green Bay next week, and the Packers figure to be in a bad mood after their bid for a perfect season ended against Kansas City. Chicago then wraps up the season at Minnesota, and that figures to be another difficult game for a reeling team.
"All I know is today was a tough day, and we've got to get ready for Green Bay," defensive end Israel Idonije said. "That's all you can do now. Refocus. Circle the wagons and get ready for another battle."
Hanie continues to struggle mightily filling in for Cutler. He was 10 of 23 for 111 yards with three interceptions before being replaced late in the game by Josh McCown, but a bigger concern was Knox.
Knox grabbed a pass from Hanie 4 minutes into the game and lost the ball when Kam Chancellor knocked it out of his hands. As Knox made a diving attempt to retrieve the ball, he was hit hard by Seattle's Anthony Hargrove during the scramble. Earl Thomas eventually recovered for the Seahawks at the Bears 23.
Knox remained on the ground for several minutes while he was being attended to before he was put on a stretcher and wheeled off the field. He put his hands to his face and moved his arms while on the stretcher and got an ovation as he was taken off.
Notes: Bears S Chris Conte suffered a foot injury trying to tackle Seattle's Justin Forsett and left the game. ... Seahawks WR Mike Williams suffered a broken ankle when he was tackled after a catch in the third quarter.