Posted by Will Brinson
With the Bears leading the Redskins 14-10 (in a game that they would ultimately lose 17-14), Earl Bennett caught a 48-yard pass that was just short of the end zone. Lovie Smith challenged the ruling on the field, believing it was a teeter, but the call was upheld.
On the very next play, Jay Cutler attempted to keep the ball and cross the goal line and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Washington's London Fletcher. Lovie decided not to challenge whether or not the ball crossed the plane of the end zone. Having since seen (probably just a couple ) replays that indicated Cutler scored, he now regrets that decision. Obviously.
"Yes, I should have [thrown the challenge flag], looking at it of course in hindsight," Smith said. "Normally if there is a critical situation, I throw it whether I have a good look or not on it. Didn't have a great look on it. I understand the reason why, but that was a critical play in the game.
"I need to be able to make that call."
Perhaps less defensible than his call is his logic for not using the second challenge there -- Smith said he thought the Bears "were in control of the game" and that they would be able to "get the ball back right away."
That Chicago DID get the ball back quickly is irrelevant, considering that they were up just four point, and a touchdown would have given them a two score lead. Additionally, on the first play after getting the ball back, Jay Cutler threw an interception.
In fact, here's how the remaining possessions ended for the Bears: INT, INT (returned for a TD by Washington), Fumble, INT, Punt, INT. (I mean, just ... wow.)
Lest you want to give Lovie credit for not knowing his team would turn the ball over and/or not score much following the third quarter review folly, here's how their other drives went: Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, TD. They also returned a Donovan McNabb interception for a touchdown, but to state unequivocally that Chicago was "in control" of a game where they'd gone 1/7 on their drives to that point is just absurd.
And yes, it would have been a pretty big blow to lose their challenges that early in the third quarter. But his excuses -- didn't have a great look at it! -- are about as viable as him looking at the media, informing them that he's seven for 25 on challenges since 2008, and asking them what they expected.
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