Bears’ Eddie Jackson demands referee responsibility after PI flag

The Bears’ defense needed a stop, and they needed it badly. They had struggled all day but offense played great to keep the team in the ball game. On a second and tenth play from the Dolphins 18, Jaylen Waddle charged across the field. The Bears played their game-changing Cover 2 defense and Eddie Jackson picked him up. Tua Tagovailoa heaved a jump ball and both Jackson and Waddle played with the ball. The ball was thrown high and bounced incompletely off Waddle’s hands. The Bears’ defense was primed to finally get a stop to build their offense with good field position. But then they weren’t.

There was a flag on the piece. Jackson had jabbed Waddle as he headed for the ball and the contact was deemed worthy of a defensive pass intervention penalty.

“Play the ball, try to turn into a receiver like we’re taught to do as DBs,” Jackson said of his take on the game. “So while I’m playing the ball I think I’m there and I feel the guy hitting me, so it’s like I don’t know what they’re shouting. I thought it was an offensive PI then the referee called me. So I turned to him and said, “Yo, how’s that a flag?” He said he hadn’t seen me play ball.

“I don’t know what to say. You referee, you stand on the side, I don’t know why you didn’t see me play the ball. Replay will show you, I didn’t even look at the phone the whole time. I played the ball in the air all the way, so it’s crazy.

A few minutes later, however, things got even crazier. This time the Bears had the ball with a chance to equalize with a field goal or take a touchdown lead. On a 3rd and 10th, Justin Fields heaved a ball to Chase Claypool for a deep shot. Claypool beat Dolphins DB Keion Crossen, so Crossen grabbed Claypool by the waist and pulled him to the ground. Given the ticky-tack calls from across the field, the Bears seemed poised to continue their attack as they were already within goal range. But then they weren’t.

There was no flag at stake. The bears had to cower quickly for their fourth attempt at conversion.

“Justin threw me a good ball to give me a chance, then I felt like I was being pulled back a bit,” Claypool said of his perspective on the game. “I still have to try and fight my way through and get this because you can’t rely on anyone else. I can only rely on myself.

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

Refs miss calls. It’s part of the game. However, the Bears had a hard time swallowing those two calls as the seemingly casual contact drew a flag on Jackson compared to the more obvious contact that didn’t do it for Claypool.

“I didn’t grab a guy,” Jackson said.

Blaming the referees for the Bears’ loss is a bit much. The umpires didn’t allow Waddle and Tyreek Hill to open up against the Bears’ zone defenses all game, nor did they block Trenton Gill’s Kahn for a special team touchdown. Those two games felt impactful as the Bears attempted to stage a comeback in the fourth quarter. If the Bears could have stopped on the 3rd and 10th, who knows what their offense could have accomplished with better field position on the drive that followed. If the referees had thrown the flag at Crossen, they would have had a great chance of at least equalizing.

“I just feel like we’re being held accountable, (the referees) need to be held accountable in some way,” Jackson said. “Sometimes it’s incredible. I don’t know, you just don’t have the words because nothing is going to happen. We have to accept this loss. We have to live with the fact that there’s no call and it’s like we’re going home, they’re going home. If we say something about (the referees), we get a fine. They do what they want and are good.

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

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