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Why was Packers' TD allowed to stand?

Posted Jan 6, 2014

Senior writer Larry Mayer discusses the TD the Packers scored on Aaron Rodgers' fumble in the season finale, if the Bears could have challenged the play-clock expiring and the last time the Bears played a playoff game on the road.

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

On the Packers' "fumble" touchdown against the Bears, why wasn't Aaron Rodgers penalized for batting the ball forward and why was the TD allowed to stand?

Mike J.

I've received a lot of emails questioning the touchdown the Packers scored against the Bears in the season finale when players on both teams assumed the ball was dead because it was an incomplete pass. Here are some answers I hope will provide some clarity: 1) The play was ruled correctly as a fumble because Aaron Rodgers lost control of the ball before his arm started forward in a throwing motion. 2) Rodgers was not penalized for batting the ball forward because he did not do it intentionally (unlike a Steelers player who was flagged for batting a loose ball out of bounds after Pittsburgh blocked a Green Bay field goal a week earlier). 3) A member of the offense, in this case Jarrett Boykin, was allowed to advance the fumble because it did not occur on fourth down or in the final two minutes of the game. In those instances, only the player who fumbles may advance it.

In the season finale against the Packers, it looked like the play clock expired on Green Bay's final drive on fourth-and-one on their own 22-yard line. Is that a play the Bears could have challenged?

Ross
St. Louis, Missouri

It's my understanding that an expiring play clock is not something that can be challenged via replay review. But you're definitely right about the play clock expiring before the ball was snapped. I saw the same thing you did. Too bad neither one of us had a penalty flag we could throw on that play.

When was the last time the Bears played a playoff game on the road? I don't remember one over the last 10-15 years, but I'm sure it had to happen.

Peter L.
Prospect Heights, Illinois

The Bears haven't played a playoff game on the road since the 1994 season. They finished in fourth place in the NFC Central, but qualified for the post-season as the third and final wildcard team in the NFC. They upset the division-champion Vikings 35-18 in Minnesota and then lost to the 49ers 44-15 in San Francisco the following weekend. The last four times the Bears have made the playoffs (in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2010), they won their division and earned a first-round bye.

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