John Fox admitted that, in hindsight, he “probably would not challenge that if I were given the opportunity again,” with the “that” being Benny Cunningham’s stretch to the pylon that resulted in a lost fumble — and not a touchdown — in the Bears’ 23-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
The Bears initially didn’t consider the possibility the replay may show Cunningham losing control of the ball as his toe was dragging out of bounds, and neither did Cunningham, who said he went to the sidelines to tell Fox to challenge whether or not he got in the end zone. In communicating with his coaches looking at the replay, Fox said “they saw it pretty much how I thought I saw it.
“We’ll leave it at that,” Fox continued. “We have to ultimately kinda go with what the officiating crew goes with. In hindsight I would not have challenged it, because it took points — however many points we don’t know — but in my opinion it hurt our cause.”
That play stands as a pivotal one in a seven-point game, with the Bears believing that Jordan Howard and the offense could’ve punched the ball into the end zone from the two-yard line had Cunningham not fumbled. Had the Bears not challenged the call, the Packers still could’ve, but the play would not have been automatically reviewed because it was not ruled a touchdown on the field.
“If we put points on the board, we will review it via our replay system upstairs and in New York,” explained referee Tony Corrente in a statement. “So in this case it was not a reviewable situation until the coach wants to challenge it. (Fox) actually did win the challenge because (Cunningham) didn't step out of bounds, so he was not charged a timeout.”
While Fox offered his explanation for the backfired challenge on Monday, there were plenty of other questions that were left unanswered during his day-after press conference. He didn’t entertain a question about why Tarik Cohen only played 13 offensive snaps, but did say:
“He's involved you know quite a bit, you know I think defenses are doing more to take him away. I think there were situations in that game yesterday that were he was doubled so it's, you know, we had to go to somebody else.”
If Cohen is being double-teamed, though, shouldn’t that create opportunities for someone else on the field to make a play?
As for Kyle Long, who was active but only played one snap, Fox said the Bears "didn't have a lot of alternatives,” in the form of other reserve offensive linemen. Tom Compton (ankle) was inactive on Sunday, but the Bears opted against playing Long, who suffered a finger injury Oct. 29 against the New Orleans Saints. Fox wouldn’t commit to Long necessarily being ready for this weekend’s game against the Detroit Lions, either.
“I think time will tell,” Fox said. “I think last week I didn’t feel like he was quite able to practice in a full speed to be prepared. He’s physically capable of being active. But again, this is a game where you have to practice to get ready for a game in a lot of cases. So he was active, so he was healthy enough, but I’m not sure he was going to be healthy enough to take 70 snaps in a game.”