It wasn’t necessarily a football game until it was for the Chicago Bears in week nine on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. For three quarters, the Bears seemed to be out of the game, that is until rookie quarterback Justin Fields came alive in the fourth quarter, leading the Bears done the field, tossing a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darnell Mooney.
The Bears’ issues in week nine don’t revolve around Fields. In fact, an immediate reaction right after the game is that Fields didn’t lose the game. The Bears lost Fields a very winnable game. 12 penalities for 115 yards is the perfect stat to describe the Bears’ loss.
Penalties were crucial in deciding the final outcome of the game, with the Bears being penalized 12 times for 115 yards, including consecutive penalties on the Steelers’ final drive.
“Too many penalties 12 penalties 115 yards,” said Bears head coach Matt Nagy via the Bears official YouTube channel. “The first half for us, to be able to let them start with the ball at the minus 40 twice and then within our own territory is, you know, we can’t have that.”
The Bears identity is one that requires the entire team to play mistake-free football. Much of Chicago’s issues on Monday night were the result of poor execution, including the inability to get lined up properly. While there were some questionable calls made by the referee crew, lining up offsides isn’t the referee’s fault and it may be a case of the Bears simply needing to execute better.
A key call, taunting on linebacker Cassius Marsh, further gave Pittsburgh additional momentum in the fourth quarter, with referee Tony Corrente explaining why Chicago was flagged.
“First of all, keep in mind that taunting is a point of emphasis this year,’ said Corente in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago’s Adam Hoge. “And with that said, I saw the player after he made a big play, run toward the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them.”
Corente’s decision is one that changed the complexion of the game and will go down in NFL offices as a play to review when discussing the significance of what taunting really is in the NFL. Yellow flags cost the Bears plenty on Monday night and it’s time to get many of these simple mistakes cleaned up and the Bears moving forward.