The Chicago Bears should be up at least 20-7 after blocking a field goal in the final seconds of the first half, but a wild series of events resulted in a field goal that gave the team a 17-7 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers instead.
It was a moment that left officials confused, one team in the locker room only to run out to the field, and eventually three points for Chicago.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down.
1. The Bears came up big with a blocked kick
The Steelers drove into Chicago territory and settled for a field goal attempt with a few seconds left on the clock. But the kick was blocked and scooped up by Marcus Cooper, who had a clear path to a touchdown.
Cooper, a fifth-year cornerback, stopped running just a few yards from the end zone and cost his team a touchdown.
Punter Jordan Berry and tight end Vance McDonald ran Cooper down because about 12 yards from crossing the line, he stopped to slowly jog. A yard short of the line, McDonald chopped at the ball that bounced across the goal line.
That was a great effort play by McDonald that saved the Steelers from a bigger hole, and a weird play by Cooper that was reminiscent of many receivers who have randomly dropped the ball on the goal line.
2. There was an illegal bat
But the half wasn’t over there, Berry wanted to avoid the swarm of Bears players from scooping up the fumble for a touchdown so he knocked the ball through the back of the end zone.
The bat drew a penalty, but officials announced that it wouldn’t be enforced.
3. The Steelers left the field
With officials announcing that the penalty wouldn’t be enforced and that no points were scored, Pittsburgh was satisfied with the ending and jogged to the locker room. Chicago remained on the field and protested while officials huddled and talked.
Eventually, officials announced that the illegal bat would be enforced from the 1-yard line and a half-the-distance-to-the-goal penalty that would give Chicago one untimed down to score.
The point of contention that appeared to confuse the officials and cause a change in the ruling was whether or not the Steelers were considered the offensive or defensive team for the illegal bat. Eventually, the officials said they were the defensive team, which meant the Bears were treated as an offense on the return.
But the changed ruling meant the Steelers had to get back on the field.
Officials were surprisingly patient with Pittsburgh and didn’t start the play clock while defensive players ran back out for the play.
4. The Bears botched their untimed play
Now on the door step, the Bears elected to go for a touchdown to try and take a commanding lead with the clock showing triple zeroes.
But a false start penalty backed the team up. Now facing an untimed down from just over 5 yards out, the Bears instead took a short field goal that gave the team a 17-7 lead.
Altogether, it was a sequence of events that won’t be soon forgotten.
— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) September 24, 2017
It wasn’t as strong as what could’ve been a 21-7 lead, but that’s still a good first half for Chicago after an 0-2 start.