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Chalk Talk

Did 49ers' sack of Cutler deserve flag?

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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.

Do you have any idea why there was not a flag thrown when Jay Cutler was clearly lifted off his feet and slammed to the ground against the 49ers?

Josh S.
Albion, Indiana

It's a very interesting question because FOX officiating expert Mike Pereira initially tweeted that there should have been a penalty called on 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt's sack of Jay Cutler last Sunday because "he lifted him and slammed him to the ground." But after watching the replay and consulting with the NFL office in New York, Pereira put out a video explaining that he was changing his mind. He said that it was a legal tackle because Cutler was still moving forward as a runner and it would have only been a penalty had Cutler been picked up and slammed to the ground after his forward progress had been stopped. In my humble opinion, even if the play doesn't fit the criteria for a roughing-the-passer penalty, it definitely was a perfect example of "unnecessary" roughness and should have drawn a flag.

Can you please explain the rule concerning the punt that the 49ers tried to down and the Bears then touched? It seems like everyone was confused, including the TV announcers. Why was that play ruled a touchback and not a fumble?

Marty G.
Hobart, Indiana

It's kind of an obscure rule, but you're right about the TV announcers getting it completely wrong. Unlike what they said, the 49ers never had a chance to recover the ball for a touchdown. Former Bears special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis called it the "no-consequence" rule.  As soon as the punting team touches the ball—as the 49ers' Quinton Patton did when he made a great play to keep the punt from going into the end zone—the receiving team can touch the ball with no consequence, meaning that while they can scoop it up and return it, they can't lose possession no matter what happens. That's why it was a smart play by the Bears' Tracy Porter to try to knock the ball into the end zone for a touchback.

The loss to the 49ers hurt. But there were bright spots, like Eddie Goldman getting two sacks. Can you give us a few more to help us through the week?

Neil A.
Portland, Oregon

It was a definitely a disappointing loss, but I do agree with you that there were some bright spots. I'll give you one in each of the three phases of the game: 1) On offense, the Bears rushed for 170 yards—their most since the season-opener—and received strong contributions from all three of their running backs in Kyle Long, Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey; 2) On defense, the Bears recorded a season-high seven three-and-outs—on the first three possessions of the first half, the first three possessions of the second half and the first possession of overtime; 3) On special teams, Deonte Thompson showed his explosiveness with a career-long 74-yard kickoff return that helped set up the potential 36-yard field-goal attempt that Robbie Gould missed on the final play of regulation. So there were some bright spots to go along with the mistakes that ultimately cost the Bears the game.

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