CHAMPAIGN—Marcus Robinson was the core of the Bears' offense in 1999 when his leaping catches helped produce nine touchdowns and a franchise-record 1,400 receiving yards.
But Robinson's two chances for similar catches went for naught Sunday, a sign of something that has been lost from the Bears' offense.
The team's final hope ended when quarterback Jim Miller tried to throw high to Robinson in the end zone in the closing seconds. But the ball sailed over Robinson's head.
Late in the first quarter the Bears stood third-and-25 at their 46 and lined up wide receiver Marty Booker in a shotgun formationas the quarterback. Thus the Bears' No. 1 wide receiver was in position to throw instead of catch, and his pass went off Robinson's hands.
Booker, a former high school quarterback who has the strongest arm on the team, said the play was not sent in because of concerns about the effects of elbow and shoulder tendinitis on Miller's ability to throw deep.
"It's just something where we were in third-and-20-something and just wanted to take a shot," Booker said. "I had options to Dez [White] and Marcus and just wanted to throw it up and give Marcus a chance to make a play."
Robinson, who has been fighting knee injuries for the last two seasons, can become an unrestricted free agent after this season if he catches 35 passes. He has 12 after eight games.
Hurting: Miller went into the game with tendinitis pain and left Memorial Stadium with a heavy bandage around his left hand. Miller was sandwiched in the third quarter by defensive end Hugh Douglas and linebacker Shawn Barber, who was penalized for a late hit on the play. He was examined by Bears medical staff but stayed in the game.
Fullback Daimon Shelton injured his left ankle in first quarter and was out for the rest of the game. He will be evaluated further Monday. Tackle Bernard Robertson also twisted his left ankle while blocking for a second-half kickoff.
Rough day: Rookie left tackle Marc Colombo, who drew a roughness penalty when he dove on Douglas after a play, drew praise from his teammates. Douglas collected two sacks, but it was unclear whether Colombo, a running back or a tight end blew the assignments in each case.
"I probably went the wrong way or something," Colombo said. "I've got to see what happened and who came free. Hugh Douglas is one of the best in the league, so it definitely helps to get the opportunity to play against someone like that."
Sack attack: Phillip Daniels' sack of Donovan McNabb in the first quarter was just the second this season by a Bears defensive lineman. Daniels was credited with a second sack in the quarter but inadvertently got his hand on McNabb's face mask and was called for a personal foul.
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who spent much of the afternoon spying McNabb to guard against the Eagles quarterback running, stepped up the pressure in the second half and sacked McNabb in the third quarter for his third sack of the season.