NFL 'Privately' Acknowledged Bears Got Screwed by Bad Calls in Steelers Loss

Justin Fields
Justin Fields / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages

The Chicago Bears are off this week due to their bye and thus have an extra seven days to stew over their latest loss. Chicago came very close to steadying the ship last Monday night thanks to the best performance of Justin Fields' young career, but fell short in part due to... questionable calls by the referees. The Bears are 3-6 and will need a big push in the second half of the season to get into playoff contention.

The big controversy of the evening was the extremely weak taunting call the officials flagged on the Bears that gave the Steelers a crucial first down late in the fourth quarter. The NFL has adamantly stood by that call and doubled down by fining the offender, Cassius Marsh, for his unsportsmanlike conduct. However, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported today that the NFL has privately acknowledged the Bears got the short end of the stick on a few other calls that night:

But privately, members of the NFL's officiating department who reviewed the game acknowledged that referee Tony Corrente and his crew erred on at least three separate critical calls and non-calls that went against Chicago in that 29-27 loss -- including a low block penalty on the Bears that nullified a Justin Fields touchdown pass, sources familiar with the league's thinking said.

Officials also missed multiple penalties by the Steelers, including a late hit on Fields that would've given the Bears first-and-goal on the same third-quarter drive and offsides by multiple Steelers on Cairo Santos' 65-yard field goal attempt that fell short as time expired.

The natural response to these kinds of reports is usually an eye-roll because acknowledging behind the scenes that the refs messed up does not actually fix anything. But it's at least validating for us viewers at home because the listed penalties were extremely obvious and it was baffling that they went uncalled.

The NFL is probably hoping this report will help alleviate the pressure on the officiating crews right now. It will not. The taunting call is what's drawing ire, and the league has apparently decided that's the hill to die on.