Nov 9, 2021

NFL officials did their best to ruin the Justin Fields party

Matt Nagy referees
(USA Today Sports)

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Good morning, frents!

Say, what was the name of the newsletter that told you the Bears had scored a defense or special teams touchdown in five straight Monday night games — a streak that stretched itself to six last night?

Take a bow, Brendan Sugrue. 👏

Monday's results
Steelers 29, Bears 27
Bulls 118, Nets 95

Today's schedule
Penguins at Hawks (7:30, NBCSCH)
Jackson State at Illinois (7, BTN)
Coppin State at Loyola (7, NBCSCH+)
Eastern Illinois at Northwestern (7, BTN+)

Monday Night Mayhem

(USA Today Sports)

Let's get the complaining and crying out of the way.

By my count, the Bears and officials worked together to gift or save the Steelers at least 11 points in Pittsburgh's 29-27 win on Monday night.

  • Jimmy Graham dropped a touchdown at the end of the first half, forcing the Bears to settle for a field goal.
  • The refs called back an actual Graham TD at the start of the second for a phantom low-block call on James Daniels. The Bears settled for a field goal again.
  • A B.S. taunting penalty on new Bear (and old Steeler) Cassius Marsh extended a Steelers drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a Chris Boswell field goal.

Doing some quick math, that's eight potential points the Bears didn't cash and an extra three for the Steelers because the NFL doesn't want anything remotely interesting (or entertaining) happening after a big play.

If we're getting really particular, it doesn't include an extra three the Steelers got after a ticky-tack pass interference call on Jaylon Johnson over Diontae Johnson in the third.

Look, complaining about refs usually isn't my jam. I find it annoying when other Bears fans or fanbases do it. And let's be honest: Officiating usually isn't among the, oh, top 20 reasons the Bears lost a game.

But it sure had a direct impact on this one, which was still only decided when Cairo Santos didn't have enough leg for a 65-yard field goal attempt at the buzzer. Yes, the Bears made their own share of mistakes and committed some legit penalties among their 12 flags for 115 yards.

But the Daniels and Marsh penalties are still arguably the reason the 3-6 Bears enter their bye week riding a four-game losing streak.

They're also why we're stuck celebrating a moral victory for the second straight week instead of basking in the Justin Fields coming-out party headlines that should have dominated the morning.

But no one needs to apologize for reveling in this performance.

Fields was fantastic for most of the night and downright deadly in the fourth as he led the Bears on touchdown drives of 82 and 75 yards. DeAndre Houston-Carson's 25-yard fumble return on a punt was sandwiched in between as the Bears scored 21 points in the quarter.

The final line for Fields: 17 for 29 for 291 yards and a touchdown plus an additional eight carries for 45 yards. Next Gen Stats reports that Fields' average of 15.7 air yards per attempt was the second-highest total for a quarterback this season. He connected with six different players and four of them had receptions of 25 or more yards.

Mix that downfield threat with Fields' speed and there's plenty of reason to remain optimistic about his future.

The trend line is moving up and to the right, which is all that matters.

The Bears' late push probably means that Bears HR won't be calling moving vans for Nagy over this bye week and maybe that's important if you feel like someone else needs to oversee Fields for the final eight games. I don't know if it makes that big of a difference if Chris Tabor is steering the ship into port instead of Nagy, but it would've been nice to have a head if this one had turned south like we first thought it did.

Fields almost saved the day though and now maybe our biggest worry is not whether or not he's good enough, but if he'll be too good down the stretch and somehow save Nagy's job in the process.

Quote

"I saw the player, after he made a big play, run toward the bench area of the Steelers and posture in a way that I felt he was taunting them."

— Referee Tony Corrente on the Cassius Marsh call

News and results

Bulls: Another big fourth quarter nabs Nets

There weren't any moral victories at the United Center on Monday night, just the regular kind. A 118-95 win over Brooklyn snapped the Bulls' two-game losing streak and moved the team's record to 7-3.

  • The Bulls closed out another game with a monster fourth. One week after outscoring Boston 39-11 in the final quarter, they outscored the Nets 42-17 in the final frame to run away with the game.
  • Kevin Durant did his usual damage with 38 points, but Alex Caruso and the Bulls locked James Harden down to just nine.
  • Ayo Dosunmu had a big game, outscoring Harden with 15 points and getting big minutes down the stretch.
  • DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 28 points. Zach LaVine had 24.
  • Gotta say: I could get used to the Bulls playing .700 basketball.

Next: Luka Doncic and the Mavs come calling on Wednesday. Dallas is also 7-3 and has won three straight.


1. Marsh ripped Tony Corrente for making contact with him before throwing the taunting flag. USA Today

2. Illinois and Northwestern both start their seasons tonight, so here's a preseason Big Ten power ranking. Inside NU

3. Power and Laz run down the list of potential Hawks coaching candidates. (Please don't make me root for Patrick Roy.) The Athletic

4. Jim Margalus says he doesn't see a "clear mistake" in the Sox decision to not issue Carlos Rodon a qualifying offer. Sox Machine

5. Travis Scott's crowd-inciting appearance at Lolla in 2015 was drawing a lot of attention on Monday. Fox 7 Austin

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