The Bears are almost certainly not making the playoffs this season, but a loss today in Green Bay would end all hope. Considering the opponent, it would be a painful way for it to happen, too.
Considering the Packers are also a better football team this year, the Bears don’t really need anything extra going against them, but that’s exactly what happened after a first quarter punt. Bears gunner Cordarelle Patterson played it absolutely perfectly, hitting returner Tyler Ervin after the ball arrived. Ervin, who hadn’t signaled fair catch, dropped the ball, and the Bears recovered.
Except the officials flagged it, ruling it kick catch interference.
Cordarrelle Patterson with the HIT of the season!
This should not get flagged, it's a great hit, leading with the shoulder.
OBLITERATED the return man.
Great work as a gunner pic.twitter.com/BS7sCXtEEU
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) December 15, 2019
What a garbage flag on Patterson for kick-catch interference, with Patterson hitting the returner after the returner touched the ball. No fair catch, and we recovered the fumble.
That should be Bears ball. We got hosed. pic.twitter.com/gP7py2nfxu
— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) December 15, 2019
It was indeed a blown call, with Fox rules analyst Dean Blandino confirming it as such. The NFL rule states that a hit is only interference if the hit comes before the ball arrives:
It is interference if a player of the kicking team contacts the receiver, or causes a passive player of either team to contact the receiver, before or simultaneous to his touching the ball.
Obviously that wasn’t the case. It’s clearly a quick play, and one that’s tough to officiate, which is why more plays like that should be subject to replay review. Because in addition to the Bears not being awarded a fumble recovery, Green Bay received 15 yards, kickstarting a drive they later converted into a touchdown. It’s not malicious, it’s just an example of how poor officiating can cause massive swings in a game, even if it’s only the first quarter.