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Chalk Talk


Did Bears deserve illegal block flags?

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

Why did Brandon Marshall get penalized for a blindside block against the Panthers when he blocked the defender right in the chest? Can you please explain that rule to me?

Kevin H.
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Excellent question, Kevin. I'm not sure why Brandon Marshall was flagged for a blindside block Sunday against Carolina (or for that matter why Darryl Sharpton drew the same penalty on a punt return). The rule states that it's an illegal blindside block "if the initial force of the contact by a blocker's helmet (including facemask), forearm or shoulder is to the head or neck area of an opponent when the blocker is moving toward his own end line and approaches his opponent from behind or from the side." That clearly didn't happen on either play. Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, who now works for FOX Sports, broke down the two plays and said: "Neither are a foul in my opinion. Neither of these were called correctly." Coach Marc Trestman said the Bears would send the two plays into the NFL for clarification, saying: "We've got to ask why [they were called] because we're really not sure looking at the tape."

I was left a bit confused with the punt that resulted in a Panthers touchdown Sunday. The ball made first contact with a Bears player. Shouldn't the play have been called dead at that very moment, kind of like when the ball is downed after it stops rolling?

Taylor C.

The officials were correct in not blowing that play dead. If the punting team touches the ball without securing it or "downing" it, the receiving team is permitted to return the ball with no bad consequences. So after the punt hit Teddy Williams, the Panthers would not have lost possession of the ball even if they had fumbled it. Again, the officials made the right call in letting the play continue.

When was the last time the Bears were 2-3 and have they ever rebounded from a sub-.500 record to make the playoffs?

Greg K.
Sacramento, California

The last time the Bears were 2-3 was in 2011. They followed by winning five straight to improve to 7-3 before Jay Cutler was injured and they lost five in a row before winning their season finale to finish 8-8. On four occasions, the Bears have rebounded from a sub-.500 record to make the playoffs. They earned wildcard berths after 3-5 starts twice in three years in the late 1970s, winning their final six to finish 9-5 in 1977 and seven of their last eight to finish 10-6 in 1979. The Bears earned another wildcard berth in 1994 after starting 1-2 and finishing 9-7, and they won the NFC North in 2005 when they won eight straight games after a 1-3 start en route to a 11-5 finish.

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