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John Fox’s challenge cost the Bears points in NFL Week 10’s biggest coaching mistake

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The Bears got jobbed by a controversial rule, but it didn’t need to happen in the first place.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears had a golden opportunity at home against the Green Bay Packers in Week 10. Aaron Rodgers is out with a broken collarbone, and Brett Hundley looked like he wasn’t ready for the spotlight. This was the perfect chance to steal a win over a hated rival and stay in the fringes of the playoff race.

So of course the Bears blew it and lost, because it’s the Bears and this is what they do. The beginning of the end came in the second quarter, with one of the most bizarre moments of Week 10. It was also a totally preventable moment, which is why John Fox earns this week’s biggest coaching mistake.

With the Bears down 10-3, Mitchell Trubisky got off a pass to Benny Cunningham, who took it 23 yards and dove at the pylon before being pushed out of bounds. The officials initially ruled him down at the 2-yard line, so Fox threw the challenge flag thinking Cunningham scored a touchdown.

The replay revealed something else entirely — Cunningham lost possession of the ball before he crossed the plane, meaning that this was the dreaded fumble out of the end zone.

The play was ruled a touchback and Packers possession, so the Bears went from first-and-goal at the 2-yard line to the defense back on the field.

It’s brutal luck for the Bears and another reminder of the controversial fumble touchback rule — the New York Jets got screwed by a similar call against the New England Patriots a few weeks ago.

However, we should emphasize that Cunningham was initially ruled down instead of crossing the plane, and a scoring play would’ve triggered an automatic review. By calling for a challenge, Fox was left at the mercy of the officials, who correctly ruled by the letter of the law even if it doesn’t make much sense.

Instead of settling for the ball at the goal line — and a talented running back in Jordan Howard potentially punching it in — Fox foolishly challenged and cost his team a crucial scoring opportunity. The Packers went on to win, 23-16, and who knows how differently the game would’ve gone if the Bears scored here.

Now 3-6, the Bears fall four games behind the 7-2 Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North. They never had much of a shot anyway, but this loss effectively ends their slim playoff hopes. Now Fox will face more questions about his job security, and this team’s performance certainly didn’t do him any favors.

Of course, Fox wasn’t the only coach to make a big mistake on Sunday, so let’s take our weekly walk of shame.

You again, Bears?

Welp, there wasn’t just one Bears mistake this week.

Remember Tarik Cohen? He was pretty fun in September. You’d think the Bears would keep using him in the offense, especially when they’re going out of their way to hide Trubisky.

I can’t imagine why this coaching staff gets so much heat from fans.

Bears weren’t the only NFC North team to have a bad challenge

Welcome back to the column, Jim Caldwell.

The Detroit Lions sleepwalked through a 38-24 win over the Cleveland Browns, which could’ve gone a lot differently if the Browns didn’t ... well, you know. Browns stuff. Anyway, the Browns went for fourth-and-1 near midfield and got it, despite Duke Johnson getting an obviously bad spot.

Caldwell challenged the play, even though there really wasn’t much to challenge because Johnson clearly got the first down, so the Browns got some extra yards after review. It didn’t end up mattering — Cleveland committed back-to-back holding calls to kill the drive — but Caldwell owned up to his mistake, saying, “I did a very poor job of that, plain and simple."

It’s good to see the Lions back in the playoff mix at 5-4, but man, don’t make it so hard on yourselves.

Rams ran a fake punt deep in their own territory, and the punter still managed to throw it short of the sticks.

We all love Sean McVay, but for a second there you would’ve thought Jeff Fisher was back. Talk about a heat check going bad.

Fortunately, the Rams moved to 7-2 after sitting back and letting Tom Savage beat himself. They now have a crucial game with the 7-2 Minnesota Vikings next week and the 7-2 New Orleans Saints the following week. Imagine going back to August and telling your old self that Rams vs. Saints would be an important marquee matchup in late November. What a strange season.

Ben McAdoo lost to the winless San Francisco 49ers

I thought for sure he’d get the Lane Kiffin treatment in Santa Clara, but the New York Giants organization is more patient than that. Still, McAdoo’s days are numbered, especially after he got the Dreaded Vote of Confidence.

On the bright side, this will make for an entertaining stretch run with the Giants openly quitting on their coach, and I’ll cherish any moment I can to dunk on McAdoo before he’s fired on Black Monday. As Jim Tomsula taught us, you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.


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