Bears confused by no offsides flag on Fields interception originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
For nearly one full quarter it looked like the Bears just might come away with an upset win over the Packers, and head into Week 7 on top of the NFC North. Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn came up with huge sacks to spoil the Packers’ first two drives, and the Bears scored a touchdown with their first offensive opportunity. Eight plays into their second drive it looked like the Bears were on their way to pulling out to a two-score lead, but one call一 or rather non-call一 seemingly turned the tide in Green Bay’s favor.
The Packers appeared to have jumped offsides, so center Sam Mustipher instinctively snapped the ball and the Bears went into “free play, throw the ball downfield” mode. Only problem was, the officials never threw a flag, so when Fields heaved the ball up and a Packers safety Darnell Savage came down with the ball the play stood as an interception.
“Really, in my mindset on that, we already have five yards,” said Fields. “It's going to be 1st-and-5, or we can get a potential downfield throw, potential PI or potential big play. So just happened to not be a flag on that play so can't really do anything about it.”
You can argue that Fields could’ve looked for a flag on the ground before throwing up a hail mary, but in the heat of the moment, with guys flying around that’s much easier said than done.
“Just pulling the trigger and going,” Mustipher said. “If he comes across the neutral zone, you snap the football and get a free play.”
“I mean that’s a play that we practice all the time,” Cole Kmet said. “When the guy jumps, Sam’s gonna snap it, and we know when Sam snaps it, just take off and go and Justin’s gonna take a shot downfield. So we definitely thought we had them offsides. But obviously not there. Really unfortunate.”
After that, the Packers marched down the field for a game-tying touchdown. Meanwhile the Bears punted four times in a row. According to Darnell Mooney it was that pivotal non-free play that stalled the Bears’ early offensive momentum.
“We were rolling,” Mooney said. “We don’t know if we would have scored on that drive or whatever, but we were rolling.”
Missing that call isn’t great, but one play shouldn’t dictate the entire game, especially in the first quarter. But that wasn’t the only moment the officials could have cost the Bears points. Right before halftime, the Bears were trying to come away with at least a field goal to tie the game back up, 10-10. Coming out of a replay timeout, the Bears took a delay of game penalty which both knocked them out of field goal range, and turned a tough 3rd-and-8 play into a much tougher 3rd-and-12.
“Yeah I don't know what was up with that,” Fields said. “I don't know if the play clock didn't reset, but when we broke the huddle there was like four or five seconds left on the play clock. So I was trying to talk to the ref, wondering about the play clock, what was going on with that, and then I tried to call timeout. He didn't see me so I'm not sure.”
Fields took a sack the next play, ruining the team’s chances to tie the game.
The Bears ended up losing by 10 points, and you can certainly argue those two moments led to a 10-point swing (or more) in favor of the Packers. But the Bears still won’t use that as an excuse for the loss.
“Control the controllables, you know?” said Fields. “They want to call all the flags on us, then we just gotta keep going. We can't worry about what they got going on. Eventually we just gotta put that in the past, be like, yo, what happened last play, just move onto this play.”