John Fox executed a challenge that was so terrible it gave the ball to the other team
The Bears are not a great football team. They’re not a terrible football team, either, but they’re not great and therefore need every edge they can get in order to win games. One of those edges is supposed to come from coaching, but John Fox is not doing them any favors and cost the Bears six points on Sunday with a horrific challenge.
Early in the game against the Packers, Benny Cunningham ripped off a long run that looked like, in real time, it was a touchdown. However, the referees ruled Cunningham out at the one-yard line, saying he was out of bounds before he dove for the end zone.
Fox saw the replay and decided to challenge the play. One problem: Cunningham actually lost the ball as he was diving for the pylon and lost it forward into the end zone.
As everyone knows — except John Fox apparently — when you lose the ball into the end zone and it goes out of bounds, the result is a touchback for the opposing team. It’s a dumb rule, sure, but it is also a rule. If you see your running back fumble forwards as he’s diving for a touchdown, you bail on the challenge and get your team to the line quickly so they can run a play and avoid the challenge.
Fox zagged when a zig wasn’t even necessary: whatever you do, don’t challenge the play.
The Bears coach, who may very well be coaching for his job at this stage of the proceedings, challenged. People were not impressed.
Fox’s reaction was worthy of the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” treatment.
It’s an all-time bad challenge — even if you were watching the play and thought “hey that was probably a touchdown” you have to have someone in your ear telling you not to challenge because it was an obvious fumble situation.
Again, the Packers were the team that might have considered challenging. From the one-yard line, you have three plays to score; there is a good argument not challenging would have been the smart move independent of the fumble situation.
Instead, Fox challenged and promptly handed the ball back to the Packers with 19 free yards of field position. The margin in NFL games is razor thin and John Fox just gave the other team a free possession while also likely taking six points off the board for his own team.
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