Life for the Bears this season has been one goofy incident after another.
Sunday it was a failed first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. And that came after a breakaway run toward the end zone was aborted when one of the Bears' fastest players was caught from behind as the first half concluded.
Both of those missed scoring opportunities left Bears coaches and fans befuddled following a 30-20 loss to the Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
"Long day for us, no doubt. Very long day," said coach Dick Jauron, whose Bears fell to 3-9 as Green Bay (9-3) clinched the NFC North title.
The Bears led 14-6 in the closing seconds of the first half when a bizarre exchange of an interception and fumbles resulted in rookie defensive back Roosevelt Williams in possession of the ball as he sprinted toward the goal line. Williams, who competed in the decathlon at Tuskegee and was an all-city track athlete in high school, was tackled from behind by the Packers' Javon Walker at the Green Bay 13-yard line as time expired.
"I just didn't want [the Bears] to get a lead," Walker said. "I felt like I could catch him, and so I just took off. It was a huge point in the game if he scored for them. It ended up a big play for us. It really motivated us going into the half."
Williams even had an escort on his 46-yard return in teammate R.W. McQuarters, who did not block Walker. But Jauron thought Williams should have scored regardless.
"I didn't have a great seat for it down on the field," Jauron said. "I just thought [Williams] would run away and score when he was out in the open. There are a lot of things that have to happen on that play, but once you're open you don't need any escorts. If there is clearly no opponent in front of him, everybody should turn back and block. But he just got run down."
The strange play began with a second-and-10 on the Bears' 34 with five seconds remaining in the second quarter. Packers quarterback Brett Favre lined up in shotgun formation and threw a pass intended for Donald Driver. It was intercepted by Damon Moore at the Bears' 5. Moore ran 35 yards before being hit by Driver and fumbling. The Packers' Mike Flanagan recovered the ball at the Bears' 41 before he coughed it up to Williams.
Leading 14-13 in the third period, the Bears had another excellent opportunity to extend their lead.
A drive that started at their own 32 appeared to culminate with a 23-yard TD pass from Jim Miller to Marty Booker. But the officials ruled an interference call on the Packers' Tyrone Williams, and that Booker's diving attempt was incomplete. That gave the Bears a first-and-goal on the 1.
The Bears challenged the ruling on the field before the call was upheld.
"I thought he caught the ball," Jauron said. "When Marty tells me something, it has proven to be true in the past. Yeah, I would challenge it. But I also told him that if they rule it, they may find it inconclusive. But I still believe he caught the football."
"Marty said he caught it," said Miller. "Evidently [the replay] was not enough to overrule it. Then we give them time to regroup and we fumble the snap. That shouldn't happen."
"I put the onus on myself," said Miller. "We got down there and it was a pretty impressive drive, but it's first things first. Protecting the football ... and, again, I blame myself."