Palko Comes Back, Leads Chiefs Over Bears 10-3

He was racking up the interceptions at an alarming rate after replacing the injured Matt Cassel and watched as the Kansas City Chiefs brought in Kyle Orton, so this certainly had to feel better.

Yes, he got yanked from the game on Sunday. He also made a case to save his job.

Palko shook off two miserable starts and threw for 157 yards and a touchdown even though he briefly got lifted for Kyle Orton, and the Chiefs beat Chicago 10-3 Sunday on a day when the Bears lost Matt Forte to a sprained right knee.

“I’ve been around football a long time, and you know that there’s a lot of ups and downs that go with it,” Palko said. “When you’re a quarterback and you’re responsible for those turnovers those first two games and the defense is playing so well, it stings. It stings deep down in your gut. You’re not trying to throw interceptions. You’re not trying to put your team in a bad position, and it stings. You’ve got to live with that for the whole week.”

This will sit better with him.

Palko completed 17 of 30 passes without an interception after getting picked off three times in his first two starts following Matt Cassel’s season-ending hand injury, and the Chiefs snapped their four-game losing streak.

Orton took just one snap at the start of the second quarter and left the game with an injured right index finger.

Coach Todd Haley didn’t have an update on the injury after the game.

Palko connected with Dexter McCluster on a wild 38-yard pass to end the first half on a ball that got deflected by Brian Urlacher and Chris Conte, giving the Chiefs a 7-3 lead and their first touchdown in three games.

Kansas City (5-7) got a 21-yard field goal from Ryan Succop in the third quarter to make it a seven-point game, and Jon McGraw intercepted struggling backup Caleb Hanie in the end zone in the fourth.

The Chiefs also recorded seven sacks — three by Justin Houston — and intercepted Hanie three times.

The Bears (7-5) dropped their second straight after winning five in a row, but the biggest loss Sunday came in the first quarter.

Forte took a hit to the right knee from Derrick Johnson on a run for no gain deep in Chicago territory with 6 minutes left in the period, another big blow for a team contending in the NFC.

Quarterback Jay Cutler was already out indefinitely after breaking his right thumb against San Diego on Nov. 20, and now Chicago might have to make do without the league’s third-leading rusher.

“It’s not a good feeling when you see your star tailback go down with a knee injury,” coach Lovie Smith said. “Part of the game. We’ll just keep our fingers crossed and hopefully it’s not that serious.”

In the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, Forte has been one of the Bears’ most valuable players. He has also been durable during his career, starting all 60 games since he entered the league in 2008, but that run could be in jeopardy.

Forte stayed on the ground while being examined by medical personnel and walked to the sideline under his own power afterward. He remained there for several minutes before heading to the locker room.

Orton, a former Bear, didn’t last long in this one.

On his first play since he was claimed off waivers from Denver, he was hit in the hand by Major Wright as he tossed an incomplete pass.

Palko came back in and was good enough for the Chiefs this week..

Hanie struggled again for the Bears, completing 11 of 24 passes with a 23.8 rating in his second start for Cutler. Besides getting sacked seven times against a team that came in with just 13, he threw three interceptions for the second straight week, and whatever chance the Bears had, basically disappeared when he got picked off in the end zone with just over four minutes left on a ball that hit off several defenders after Roy Williams juggled it.

“Don’t blame one guy for this loss,” Smith said. “We all had a big say in what happened today.”

Notes: Besides Forte, the Bears also lost Wright to a shoulder injury. … The Bears visit Denver this week in the last of four straight games against AFC West opponents. … Chiefs safety Kendrick Lewis injured a knee in the first half.

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