Tape Proves That If Anyone Was Burned By the Clock, It Was the Falcons

Bears fans are angry as hell... and wrong

Welcome to the NBC Chicago Sports Mailbag!  Each week, especially Sunday nights during Sports Sunday: The Post-Game Show, we receive questions from viewers.   So today we're launching the Mailbag so we have a chance to answer more of them.

It didn't come as a surprise to find our mailbag full of angry Bears fans this morning.  Let's dive in.

Rich writes:  With ALL the TV coverage, officiating, instant replay, and required reviews, for games in the NFL I find it unbelievable that NO ONE noticed the TIME CLOCK failed to advance properly with 11 seconds left in the game. First, the TV Clock indicated 11 seconds remaining when the Bears kicked the extra point after the touchdown. Somehow the TIME CLOCK did NOT move even one second when the Bears kicked the point. I would think one or two seconds should have expired. Second, why did the Time Clock not start immediately when the Bears kicked off.

Rich sums up the feelings of many Bears fans last night/this morning.  So I grabbed the tape this morning to take a look and found some interesting things.

First, on the Bears touchdown play, Rashied Davis catches the ball and clearly lands out of bounds with :12 remaining.  After he hits the ground and the official signals touchdown, the clock continues to run down to :11.  If you watch it, there clearly should have been :12 left and not :11.

Next, and this is for Rich, the extra point is an untimed play.  Whether it be a simple kick for the extra point or a two-point conversion attempt, no time ever runs off the clock.  Just wanted to make sure we're clear on that.

Finally, I timed both the squib kickoff and the Matt Ryan pass completion at the end of the game and both took five seconds flat.  It may appear the clock doesn't start right away, etc... but both the kick return (from the moment the returner touches it to the moment he's down) and the pass play (from the moment Ryan snaps the ball to the moment Jenkins steps out of bounds) took :05.  The timekeeper was right on it.

Bottom line: bad stuff from the Bears in the final 11 seconds of that game. You can't kick the ball that short, and you can't allow the 25+ yard out at that point.   There's lots of blame to go around on this loss, but the Atlanta timekeeper gets none of it.

Joe writes:  What are your thoughts on the Bears new infatuation with the pass?  Everyone knows that a solid running game opens up the passing game – yet the last few games I’ve noticed that [Bears offensive coordinator Ron] Turner abandons the running game entirely in the 2nd half.

Here’s one statistic – in the 4th quarter of the Falcons game the offense made 23 passes and 5 runs … and three of those runs were on the goal line – that’s not gonna win football games.

We have this great rookie Forte and he is being under-utilized – I just don’t get it.

Great stuff, Joe.  For accuracy's sake, the Bears actually ran 32 plays in the 4th quarter, 25 passes and 7 runs w/two of the passing plays being cancelled out by penalty (so 23 passes/7 runs).   In this particular case it's hard to blame Turner for this.  After all, the Bears were behind and needed to score quickly. You can't do that by running the football.

So I went back to the Bears other two losses to check this out and here's what I found: 

In the Tampa Bay loss, the Bears (trailing 14-9 at the half) threw the ball 17 times and ran it 14 times in the second half.  When it counted most, when they had a 24-17 lead with 3:11 to go, they ran the ball all three times ... and punted. That gave Brian Griese the ball back in time for the game-tying drive. 

In the Carolina loss, the Bears (leading 10-3 at the half and eventually 17-3) threw the ball 19 times and ran it 11.  So I don't know that I'd say Turner abandons the run.  But it is interesting to see the Bears (the team Lovie Smith claims comes "off the bus running") appears to be throwing the ball a lot more often, even when trying to protect a lead.

Finally, I don't think Matt Forte is being "under-utilized", in fact, I'm actually a bit worried about his workload.  Forte's 127 carries are the 4th most in the NFL and, when you tack on his 27 receptions, he actually has the most touches in the nfl.

If anything, the Bears may have to find a way to keep Forte fresh during the stretch run.  Remember, he's a rookie playing in his first NFL season.

Mike asks:  Any clarification on why Dusty Dvorcek was called for delay of game?

Good question, Mike and the answer is "not really."  I've spoken to Peggy and others at the game and there really wasn't one explained and no one saw anything.  My guess is Dusty took a page out of teammate Tommie Harris' playbook and either batted at the ball before it was snapped or tried to get the interior line of the Falcons to jump. 

Mike [not the same one] states:  Lovie, don't we play 4 quarters or just 3.9? Kicking a squib and no-coverage on a long pass would never cut it under Ditka.

Hard to argue there.

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