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Chalk Talk


Did referee's mistake cost Bears field position?

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

Has there been any discussion of the spot after the Bengals punt near the end of the first half last Sunday went out of bounds around the 50 and also resulted in an unnecessary roughness penalty against Cincinnati? The ball was spotted at the Cincinnati 44. Robbie Gould hit a 58-yard field goal, but had he missed that spot could have influenced the outcome of the game.

Henderson, Nevada

That's a good catch by you, Chris (and the other fans who sent me similar emails). Yes, I do think that the officials made an error in spotting the ball. Kevin Huber's punt appeared to go out of bounds around the 50-yard line, which meant the Bears should have started at the Bengals' 35 after the 15-yard penalty against Dre Kirkpatick was assessed. But the officials appeared to mark the penalty off from where it took place at the Chicago 41 and then placed it at the Cincinnati 44.

I can't recall many games where Jay Cutler was not sacked. How many times has that happened?

John B.

Last Sunday against the Bengals marked the sixth time Cutler was not sacked in 57 games with the Bears. Cutler was sacked at least once in 37 of his first 38 contests after being acquired in a 2009 trade with the Broncos. Since that point, however, Cutler has not been sacked in five of 19 games, including three of his last eight dating back to last season.

On Jay Cutler's interception against the Bengals, it looked like the defensive lineman had his hand inside Cutler's shoulder pad as he was throwing the ball. Is that legal? If the lineman sacked Cutler like that, wouldn't it be a horse-collar tackle, resulting in a 15-yard penalty?

Martin W.
Wichita Falls, Texas

I saw the same thing you did; Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson definitely had his hand inside the back of Jay Cutler's shoulder pads and pulled him back. But even if Johnson had pulled Cutler down all the way to the ground, it would not have been a penalty because the horse-collar tackle does not apply to quarterbacks in the pocket.

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