ATLANTA—Usually it is the losing team that is fuming about officiating. Not Sunday. The steam was coming from the Bears, who felt like they needed to overcome more than just the Atlanta Falcons for their 14-13 victory.
The Bears were flagged five times for roughness penalties, plus an illegal-use-of-hands call, and lost a total of 79 yards in addition to their tempers on occasion, including normally inscrutable coach Dick Jauron.
Jim Miller said. "That does lead to frustration. Because when you feel you're not battling just 11 guys, that you're battling about 15 or 16, yeah, that gets frustrating. That's uneven and that's not fair."
In the fourth quarter the Bears lost more yards in penalties (44) than they gained in offense (42). They also lost kick returner Leon Johnson, who was penalized and ejected for swinging at a Falcon after a play late in the quarter.
Twice in the first quarter, referee Jeff Triplette announced reversals of his own crew's calls, once announcing a call on "the kicking team" on a play that did not involve a kick.
Miller refused to blame the officials for the Bears' lackluster play. Jauron, visibly livid at calls that included apparently simple, within-the-rules tackles by his defense, acknowledged: "We are not real happy with them on the sideline. We were unhappy with some of the calls and with our players. That is not how we play the game."
Rosevelt Colvin was called twice for roughing Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, both times on hits that drew criticism from the Bears' sideline. Once Colvin and rookie Bryan Knight hit Vick just as he released a pass, and later he and end Keith McKenzie took Vick down as a pass was released.
"I think it was making us even madder," Colvin said. "It just built up. But the officials were calling it the way they wanted to call it, and we just had to keep getting after the quarterback hard."
Was there any home-field pressure at work? "I don't know," Colvin said. "I don't think they'd hire those refs to come to Chicago.
"I thought when you tackle somebody, you're supposed to take them to the ground. I guess we'll have to go back and look at the rules. Next time I'll stop in the middle of the play, while I'm tackling, and see if he has the ball, then continue to take him down."