Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
Did the Bears get an explanation from the officials about why Cole Kmet was assessed a 15-yard penalty against the Saints? Watching on TV, it didn't appear that he did anything to warrant it, and it was a huge point in the game.
During a video call with reporters Monday, Cole Kmet discussed the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he drew Sunday against the Saints. He said he was told by an official that he threw the ball at Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. For those who missed it, Jenkins tackled Kmet after a short reception and the two were walking back to their respective huddles side-by-side. It appeared that they were talking to each other. Kmet then flipped the ball gently over Jenkins to an official. Said Kmet: "We ran the play and I hit '27' and we kind of went to the ground, got up. We were kind of just laughing about the play. Tossed the ball to the ref, look over and then there's a flag on the ground. They told me I was throwing the ball egregiously at 27. But I mean, that just wasn't the case. Later in the game, 27 even said that they got away with one there." Kmet said he thought the flag was on a Saints defender and it would give the Bears a first-and-goal. Instead, it resulted in third-and-20 and they were eventually forced to settle for a field goal. Kmet said: "It was unfortunate because that was a critical moment in the game. We have an opportunity to go down after a turnover and put some points on the board, and now we're in a spot where we have to fight for field position to kick a field goal." Asked later in Monday's video interview what his family thought of the call, Kmet said: "My mom was upset because she knows her son would never do anything like that. So she was a little fired up at the game."
Why weren't the Bears more aggressive at the end of the first half? I believe they had two timeouts left and had a chance to put more points on the board.
The situation you're describing occurred in Sunday's Wild Card game in New Orleans when the Bears took over at their own 18 with 1:49 left in the first half, trailing 7-3, and had two timeouts remaining. They handed off on first down to David Montgomery, who gained five yards. The Saints then took their final timeout with 1:42 to play. The Bears followed with back-to-back running plays to Montgomery for three yards and Ryan Nall for no gain before punting with :14 left. Here's how coach Matt Nagy explained his approach on that final drive of the first half: "I didn't like the field position. I was telling the coaches, 'Hey, let's see where we can go here big picture. Let's get a first down or two.' The field position was so bad that, as you could see, they called a timeout after first down and then they were out of timeouts. Being 7-3, knowing that we're getting the ball to start the third quarter, at that point in time that was really the mindset just because of the field position. Now you end up getting a first down or two and now it flips; now you go from that four-minute mode to that two-minute mode."
Why didn't the Bears kick an extra point after Jimmy Graham's touchdown? I know that time expired, but I thought teams still had to attempt the PAT.
Orland Park, Illinois
The NFL passed a rule a couple years ago that teams don't have to attempt an extra point following a touchdown as time expires as long as one team leads by at least two points. The rule change came after the Vikings beat the Saints in a 2018 divisional playoff game on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs as time expired that's been dubbed the "Minneapolis Miracle." While the Vikings celebrated their wild win, most Saints players headed to the locker room. But both teams were forced to line up for the meaningless extra point. Only eight New Orleans players were on the field for the attempt—including current Bears linebacker Manti Te'o. The Vikings didn't even try the kick, however; Keenum took the snap from center and took a knee.
Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.