Sherrick McManis blocked a field goal and Marcus Cooper picked the ball up with nothing but green grass ahead of him on his way to the end zone.
Then, for some reason, Cooper eased up a few yards from the end zone. What happened next was straight out of a Leon Lett highlight reel: Vance McDonald hit Cooper from behind, leading to Cooper fumbling the ball and it being batted out of the end zone for a penalty. The Steelers went to the locker room, then had to come back out for an untimed down from the one-yard line. After Charles Leno was whistled for a false start, the Bears kicked a field goal.
So Cooper cost the Bears four points. But...why? What was he doing?
When you do something that’s never been done before in an NFL game, you’ve done something pretty special.
Eddie Jackson had himself a jaw-dropping day Sunday, returning not one but two Carolina Panthers turnovers 75 yards for touchdowns in the first half of the Bears’ Week 7 contest, the first time ever a defensive player had multiple return touchdowns of 75 yards or more.
The Panthers had little trouble moving the ball downfield on their first possession of the game, but quarterback Cam Newton’s option pitch was fumbled, allowing Jackson to pick it up and dash down the sideline 75 yards for a score.
Then in the second quarter, the Panthers got inside the Bears’35-yard line, only for a Newton pass to be batted up in the air by Prince Amukamara and land in Jackson’s hands. The rookie safety again ran back 75 yards for a Bears touchdown.
And how about this: Jackson's huge performance came a year to the day that his collegiate career ended with a broken leg at Alabama.
Some more wild facts from Jackson’s remarkable first half:
Incredible. And that was just in the first half.
Everything changed for the Bears after going up 17-3 last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Mitchell Trubisky’s 27-yard touchdown to Dion Sims was immediately followed by Bobby Rainey running a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, then the offense was bogged down with three fumbles (two lost) on three consecutive possessions.
But Adrian Amos seemed to seal the game with his 90-yard pick six — that is, until Michael Campanaro ran Pat O’Donnell’s punt back 77 yards for what wound up being a game-tying touchdown after a two-point conversion.
The point is the Bears should’ve cruised to a comfortable win last week; a few critical mistakes didn’t allow that to happen. The Bears haven’t led at the end of the fourth quarter this year, a pretty strong indicator they haven’t played a complete game yet despite having two wins.
The Carolina Panthers have road wins over the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots this year, and only lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by five points last week (despite Cam Newton throwing three interceptions). The bet here is the Bears keep things close on the backs of a strong defense, but either can’t make enough plays or make too many mistakes to win.
Prediction: Panthers 20, Bears 16