What do you do when you’re 5-10, far from playoff position, playing out the string on a lost season and losing 14-0 in your final game of the year?
You try out some trickeration.
With six minutes to play in the first half of Sunday’s season finale against the Vikings, the Bears pulled off the ol’ punt-return decoy play to (near) perfection. As Minnesota’s defense collapsed on a returner apparently settling under the ball, Bryce Callahan hovered near the opposite sideline and snuck into the picture to snag the punt near midfield. After sliding to the ground to make the catch, Callahan popped to his feet and darted 59 yards to the end zone. Take a look:
Here’s a breakdown that gives you a better sense of how exactly this play went down.
This trick play, with slight moderations here and there, has been around since at least 2005, when Bears special teams coordinator (now with the Chiefs) orchestrated it using Devin Hester as a decoy. That return was called back due to a dubious holding call, but a sensation was born. Since then, we’ve seen the decoy play deployed periodically, most recently when USC pulled it on UCLA this past November.
The Bears’ version of the play Sunday might not have been the cleanest or prettiest we’ve ever seen, but they’ll take the seven points nevertheless.