It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a defender in the NFL, as the “Monday Night Football” showdown between the Vikings and Bears demonstrated.
The Bears defense was the unfortunate victims of several controversial penalties on Monday, which led to multiple scoring drives for Minnesota. The first occurred in the first quarter, when Deon Bush was called for a suspect unnecessary roughness penalty when defending tight end Tyler Conklin. The result of the play should have been an incomplete pass on third down, but officials’ interference allowed the drive to continue.
Six plays later, the Vikings extended their lead to 10-0 with a 37-yard field goal from Greg Joseph. While that play was certainly bad, it wasn’t nearly as egregious as the Bears’ penalty that resulted in a Vikings touchdown midway through the third quarter.
The first was against Bears defensive back Teez Tabor, who was called for an illegal low block on third-and-17. Except, it was obvious that Tabor was merely going for a tackle of running back Dalvin Cook. Had the official swallowed his whistle, the result of the play would have been a 5-yard gain by Cook, making it third-and-12 and setting the Bears up for a return. Instead, the penalty resulted in an automatic first down for the Vikings.
The kicker is that linebacker Trevis Gipson committed a personal foul on what would have been another third-down stop later in the drive that extended the drive further. The Vikings would have set up for a 47-yard field goal had he not hit a Vikings player in the head; instead, the Vikings got 15 free yards and a fresh set of downs.
Three plays later, Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins hit Ihmir Smith-Marsette for a 7-yard touchdown on third-and-2 from the 7 to make the score 17-3.