Yesterday’s game between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints was yet another beautiful example of the NFL’s inability to determine what constitutes a catch.
This inconsistency impacts games almost regularly, but it’s especially frustrating when your team is on the short end of the stick with the Bears ultimately falling to the Saints, 20-12.
As a Bears fan that lived through the distressing Cutler years, I’d be remised if I said I didn’t have high hopes for our rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky.
So when he threw an absolute dime to TE Zach Miller for a touchdown late in the third quarter, I was hyped. But thanks to referee Carl Cheffers neglecting to actually watch the play; that hype was short-lived. He overturned the touchdown call on the basis that Miller lost control of the ball as he turned over to grab his injured knee.
Take a look at the video:
How in the hell is that not a catch? I watched the replay more times than anyone should, and all I could see was Miller severely injuring his knee over and over again.
I must admit that when the NFL overturned Calvin Johnson’s game-winning touchdown catch against the Bears in 2010, my objection was nowhere to be found. But in Miller's case, I was not having it. Chaffers's call simultaneously stripped the Bears of the lead and of the confidence Trubisky would have gained from the drive.
I think that a decision like that not only shapes the outcome of a game, but also the outcome of a season. I know that overturning Miller’s touchdown catch didn't cost the Bears a bid to the Superbowl, but it did change the course of the game and it negatively affected their chance of a playoff bid.
At that point, the Bears would have taken the lead, 13-10 when you factor in Connor Barth's missed field goal, and Kyle Fuller’s offsides penalty that ultimately resulted in a touchdown for the Saints—a +4 point swing.
Little things, like what I mentioned above, changed the entire dynamic of the game. I think, had the Miller touchdown been upheld, the Bears come away with a victory - because the offense would have approached the possessions following Mark Ingram's two fumbles differently.
Now, instead of being in a position to challenge the Minnesota Vikings for the lead in NFC North, the Bears fall behind 3 games to last place in the division with a record of 3-5. If the Bears lose a wildcard spot because of a single game, I'll look to this one as a turning point in the season. What's more, Trubisky loses one of his favorite targets in an offense that was already working with a severely depleted receiving corps.
It goes without saying that had the Bears won; this article wouldn't exist. And in the end, the "what ifs" and "should haves" don't matter, but they sure make for an interesting discussion.