Eddie Jackson calls for ref accountability after PI call


The Bears defense needed a stop, and they needed it badly. They’d struggled all day, but the offense played great to keep the team in the ball game. On a 2nd-and-10 play from the Dolphins 18-yard line, Jaylen Waddle streaked down the field. The Bears were playing their landmark Cover 2 defense, and Eddie Jackson picked him up. Tua Tagovailoa heaved a jump ball and both Jackson and Waddle made plays on the ball. The ball was thrown high and bounced off Waddle’s hands, incomplete. The Bears defense was primed to finally get a stop to set up their offense with good field position. But then they weren’t.

There was a flag on the play. Jackson had bumped Waddle while going for the ball and the contact was deemed worthy of a defensive pass interference penalty.

“Play the ball, try to turn into a receiver, as we’re taught as DBs,” Jackson said about the play from his perspective. “So as I’m playing the ball, I’m thinking I’m there and I feel the guy hit me, so it’s like I don't know what they’re calling. I thought it was offensive PI, then the ref called it on me. So I turned to him and said, ‘Yo, how is that a flag?’ He said he didn’t see me playing the ball.

“I don’t know what to say. You’re a referee, you’re right on the side, I don’t know how you didn’t see me play the ball. Replay will show you, I didn’t look at the receiver once the whole time. I was playing the ball the whole way in the air, so it’s like, it’s crazy.”

Things got crazier a few minutes later, however. This time the Bears had the ball with a chance to tie with a field goal, or take the lead with a touchdown. On a 3rd-and-10, Justin Fields heaved a ball to Chase Claypool for a deep shot.  Claypool has Dolphins DB Keion Crossen beat, so Crossen grabbed Claypool by the waist and pulled him down. Given the ticky-tack call on the other side of the field, the Bears seemed primed to continue their drive, already in scoring range. But then they weren’t.

There was no flag on the play. The Bears needed to quickly huddle up for their fourth-down conversion try.

“Justin threw me a good ball to give me a chance, then I felt like I was pulled back a little bit,” said Claypool about his perspective of the play. “Still gotta try to fight through that and get that, because you can’t count on someone else. Can only count on myself.

“I thought especially after the one that was called on us that I thought for sure (it was a penalty), but it doesn’t really matter what I think.”

Refs miss calls. It’s part of the game. The Bears had a tough time swallowing these two calls, however, because of the seemingly incidental contact that drew a flag on Jackson, compared to the more obvious contact that didn’t for Claypool.

“I didn’t grab no dude,” Jackson said.

Blaming the Bears loss on the refs is a bit much. The refs didn’t allow Waddle and Tyreek Hill to get open all game against the Bears zone defense, nor did they block Trenton Gill’s punt for a special team’s touchdown. Those two plays did feel impactful as the Bears tried to mount a fourth-quarter comeback. If the Bears had been able to get a stop on 3rd-and-10, who knows what their offense could’ve done with better field position on the ensuing drive. If the refs had thrown the flag on Crossen, they would’ve had a great chance to at least tie.

“I just feel like we’re held accountable, (the refs) have got to be held accountable in some type of way,” said Jackson. “Sometimes it’s unbelievable. I don’t know, you’ll just be lost for words because nothing’s going to happen. We’ve gotta take that loss. We’ve gotta live with that no call and it’s like we go home, they go home. If we say something about (the refs) we get fined. They make whatever call they want and be good.

“It’s really out of our control, but I just really want the league to start holding everybody accountable, players and officiating.”

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