Sunday morning Bears coaches decided not to activate cornerback Nathan Vasher who said during the week that he was "100% certain" he would play against the Falcons. That came back to bite the Bears who in the 4th quarter were not only without Vasher, but also their other starting CB Charles Tillman who left with a shoulder injury, the same injury that took backup corner Trumaine McBride out, while nickelback Danieal Manning pulled a hamstring. Who was left in the secondary? Corey Graham and newly acquired (week 4) Marcus Hamilton were the only corners, and the only backup was safety rookie Craig Steltz (Steltz was playing on the kick coverage unit that gave up an 85 yard return).
All this informs the Bears decision to squib kick. So many regular special teamers had been playing on defense, that the special teams were dangerously tired. The 85-yard return by Jerious Norwood signaled to Bears coaches the special teams unit was softening -- coaches didn't want to risk another big return, so instead of a deep kick or a bouncing line drive kick, they went with a squib. One play later and one second left on the clock, the Falcons kicked a game-winning field goal.
A short-handed roster led to breakdowns not only on defense but also special teams.