Owners passed a rule Tuesday that will permit a defensive player to wear a radio speaker in his helmet at the meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., a measure Bears coach Lovie Smith has long been in favor of adding.
Smith wasn’t so lucky with another more obscure rule, one many were not aware of until the Bears’ game at Philadelphia in Oct. 21.
It was no snap decision.
If you recall the game that saved the Bears’ season (before it was lost the very next week with a home loss to the Detroit Lions), the score was tied at 9 in the fourth quarter in Philadelphia when a snap from center Olin Kreutz went through quarterback Brian Griese’s legs untouched and the ball was eventually scooped up by Eagles safety Sean Considine, the Byron, Ill., product, and returned to the Bears’ nine-yard line before Cedric Benson ran him down. Who said Benson could not outrun defensive backs?
The Eagles were on the door step about to take control of the game.
Or so we thought.
In stepped referee Ed Hochuli, who blew the play dead and called a false start against the Bears, explaining when a quarterback is under center and the snap goes past him untouched, the play is dead and it’s a penalty.
Not anymore. According to ESPN’s John Clayton, ``a direct snap from center that goes backward will now be treated as a fumble. Previously, it was ruled a false start.’’
Officiating supervisor Art McNalley was at the game at Lincoln Financial Field and he quickly confirmed Hochuli had made the right call. The Bears, who retained possession near midfield, went on to get a 45-yard field goal from Robbie Gould, and triumphed 19-16 when Griese executed the now infamous 97-yard drive without the aid of his helmet communication system, capping it with a 15-yard touchdown toss to Muhsin Muhammad.
``If the ball is snapped in between the quarterback’s legs, he has to be the one to get the ball,’’ McNalley said in a pool report. ``Under these circumstances, it has to be ruled a false start. If he’s in shotgun and the [ball] is snapped over his head, [it’s a] clean play. Pick it up. Go ahead and go the other way. Everything’s fine. The fact that he's taking the snap direct from the center [and the ball] goes through his legs, [the referee has] got to kill it right away, false start.
``I don't know what the intent of the rule is. The ball has to be taken by the quarterback.’’
Said Smith after the game: ``I haven’t seen that. But I’m all in favor of that, for sure.’’
You win some, you lose some.