Finally, it happened! A 13-play drive that covered 92 yards and chewed up 6:51 in game action was punctuated with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Trubisky to Benny Cunningham.
Objective “long, scoring drive” has finally been achieved. And hey, it wasn’t even half-bad, considering the five penalties which moved the Bears 22 yards in the wrong direction.
But as any Bears fan can tell you, good times rarely last – at least, with John Fox in charge.
With 2:32 left in the game and the team down by 10, Head Coach John Fox decided against the onside kick, electing, instead, to go with the non-traditional pooch kick, which landed safely in the arms of an awaiting Lions player.
“Again, it’s field position. There was time enough left in the game. You’re going to have to do it one or the other, depending on whether your score or not. We kind of had that one up on their base return. Typically, most people will kick it deep early so that you have field position and don’t force them to go fourth down and they have field position. So I don’t regret doing that.”
So in a game where the Bears hung close with a Lions team incapable of putting them away, Fox essentially chose to give in for the sake of field position. Twice. If you’ll recall, we discussed another controversial decision made by Fox when he punted on a 4th-and-1 situation that ended up swinging the game’s momentum.
Not kicking an onside kick in the name of field position is sensible. But choosing the pooch kick as the alternative makes even less sense if the goal is to force a three-and-out and gain an edge in field position. And if gaining field position was the motivating factor in not attempting an onside kick, why middle and call for a pooch kick when booting it deep is also a possibility.
The Bears did get the ball back for one final drive with 2:07 remaining in the game. But at this point, the Bears had just one timeout and were pinned at their own 6-yard-line. The drive started well enough with Trubisky completing five of his first six passes and moving the ball to the Lions 25. But it ended with Darius Slay’s second interception.
In the end, Fox played it safe and it took away a potential coaching point from the team’s rookie quarterback. So much for the progress made in Week 14.