The Chicago Bears’ hopes of upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers took a big blow at the end of the first half when they lost what should have been a sure-thing touchdown.
With the Bears up 14-7, the Steelers attempted a field goal on the final play of the first half. The Bears blocked the kick, the ball bounced straight to Marcus Cooper, and he had nothing but grass between himself and the end zone and a huge 14-point lead.
Instead, Cooper stopped running before the end zone and was caught from behind. The ball was stripped from his hands and eventually knocked out of the end zone.
On the replay from the sideline, it was painfully obvious that Cooper either had no idea where he was or just assumed nobody was chasing him.
The officials initially ruled the ball a touchback, which would have ended the first half with no points scored, but the Bears got bailed out to a certain extent.
Officials discussed the play and changed the ruling. The Steelers were penalized on the play for illegally batting the ball out of the end zone. Since they were technically the defense at the time of the foul, and since a half cannot end on an enforced defensive penalty, the ball was taken back to the spot of the fumble, moved half the distance to the goal, and given to the Bears for one untimed down from the half-yard line.
The Bears had been given a second chance. But instead of scoring a touchdown, they committed a false start, were backed up five yards, and instead were forced to settle for a field goal.