CHICAGO — Tyler Palko got yanked from the game – and possibly saved 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 Kansas City Chiefs beat Chicago 10-3 Sunday on a day when the Bears lost Matt Forte to a right knee injury.
Orton came on to start the second quarter and immediately left the game after injuring a finger on his right hand. 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 while snapping a four-game losing streak.
The Bears 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, 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, they might have to make do without the league's third-leading rusher.
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 tended to by medical personnel and walked to the sideline on his own power after that hit to the knee. 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 immediately came back in and wound up completing 17 of 30 passes without an interception. It was a big improvement for a quarterback who got picked off three times in each of his first two starts after Matt Cassel suffered a season-ending hand injury.
Hanie was 11 of 24 in his second start for Cutler. He had completed four straight passes to put the ball on the Chicago 13 after connecting on just one in the second half before that when Roy Williams juggled a throw. The ball hit off several defenders before a diving McGraw picked it off in the end zone with just over 4 minutes left.
The Chiefs got all the points they needed at the end of the first half.
With 2 seconds left, Palko heaved the ball to the end zone, and in one dramatic sequence, the Chiefs got their first touchdown since the third quarter against Denver on Nov. 13.
A leaping Urlacher got both hands on the ball, but Conte went up over the top of him and knocked it to McCluster, sending the Chiefs to the locker room with the lead.
Besides Forte, the Bears also lost safety Major Wright to a shoulder injury. Chiefs safety Kendrick Lewis injured a knee in the first half.