Bears Come up Short: Kickoff Haunts Chicago

Ricky ButtsCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2008

It was one heck of a game.  It was something the Bears offense needed to shut up the skeptics.  It was one that would have built confidence. 

It is one that got away because of a coaching staffs call.

The Bears' offense put them in a position to win it. Especially after a day full of the Bears' secondary getting picked apart on third downs.  Though the defense only gave up one touchdown, the secondary looked shaky most of the afternoon.  This, due to injuries to top cornerbacks Nathan Vasher and Charles "Peanut" Tillman—the latter was removed in the first half. 

After the offense brought the team back, and got the lead with eleven seconds to go, the call that I am wondering about is the pooch kick.  With the amount of time on the clock, I cannot understand why you would do this. 

On the previous kickoff, Jerious Norwood did return a kick for 85 yards, but that is something very uncommon against the Bears' special team units. 

In this situation, I believe you have to take your shot kicking it deep.  If Norwood returns it 50 yards, he is going to take six to eight seconds off the clock minimum, leaving Atlanta with one attempt at the end zone.  If he returns it less than 40 yards, you are typically looking at five to seven seconds running off the clock. 

That leaves Ryan needing to connect on a forty-yard or better completion, with no time to call a time out.  So, to make the play even harder, the receiver has to get out of bounds.

Instead, the play went down with Atlanta starting on the 44-yard line, after running five seconds off the play with a ten-yard return.  Ryan had six seconds left, and only needed to throw a twenty-yard completion, with his receiver getting out of bounds.

The play resulted in a twenty-six-yard completion with Michael Jenkins getting out of bounds with one second on the clock.  Jason Elam answered with a 47-yard field goal while the play clock hit zeros, dooming the bears to a 22-20 loss.

This is one of the most disturbing sequences that I can remember while watching a well-coached Chicago team over the last five seasons.  That is, of course, outside of some of Grossman's disasters.  This one though, I put on the coaching staff. 

In my mind, a pooch kick in that situation makes absolutely no sense.

I guess for some reason the Bears' staff thought Hester was the return man.