CHICAGO – Had the outcome been different Sunday, the Chicago Bears’ season-high 13 penalties would have been a central storyline, instead of a footnote.
Before the 23-20 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Bears had committed just 40 penalties this season, with the previous game high of six occurring in the club’s Week 5 loss to New Orleans.
Cornerback Zack Bowman had the most difficult time with the officials on Sunday, flagged a total of five times (one of the penalties was declined). The most costly of Bowman’s infractions came on the Ravens’ final drive of regulation, when the cornerback – starting in place of the injured Charles Tillman – was called for a horse-collar penalty while tackling receiver Torrey Smith after a 6-yard completion on third-and-10. Bowman’s mistake gave Baltimore 15 yards and a fresh set of downs, and the Ravens ultimately drove down the field and kicked a game-tying field goal with three seconds left on the clock.
“After the play [Smith] popped up and told me that I had his jersey [and that it wasn’t a horse collar],” Bowman said. “But hey, it is what it is. You just have to move on to the next play and keep going. It’s a close call and you just can’t worry if they make the call or don’t make the call. You just have to move on to the next play.
“Look, Tim Jennings told me to keep playing aggressive. He told me that he’d rather see me play aggressive then not play aggressive. I just kept playing. I wasn’t [going to] worry about the officials; I wasn’t worrying about the calls. If they throw the flag, they throw it; if they don’t, they don’t. I can’t worry about what the officials do; I can just focus on what I need to do.”
Bears coach Marc Trestman expressed his unhappiness with the club’s lack of discipline at the very beginning of his postgame news conference.
"We had too many penalties," Trestman said. "Too many pre-snap penalties today that really inhibited our ability to function as well as we’d like to."
The Bears’ players made no excuses for the overwhelming number of miscues, but it is likely the weather conditions Sunday played a role in the amount of infractions committed by both teams. Baltimore was flagged five times for 46 yards.
The penalties are “obviously something we need to work on,” Bears right guard Kyle Long explained. “When the wind is howling in and out of your helmet you can’t hear anything. Also, your vision is all messed up [with the moisture], so you have to take that all into consideration. But at the end of the day we just need to move forward.”
Defensive end Corey Wootton added: “It was tough. We can’t make any excuses, but sometimes different people get fooled by the center movement and all the head-bobs. But really, we just have to stay poised. And the most important thing is that we need to stay onside.”