With :59 seconds remaining in the first half, the Bengals have second down and 14 from their own nine-yard line. Instead of milking the clock with the Bears having one remaining timeout, the Bengals called a pass. Dalton threw a bad ball to A.J. Green and the football falls incomplete.
The Bengals call a draw on third down, pick up seven yards and the Bears use their final timeout leaving :49 seconds. After a 44 yard punt to the Bears 41-yard line, Chicago benefits from a Dre Kirkpatrick penalty that moved the football to Cincinnati s' 44-yard line. After a four-yard pass, spike, and incomplete pass, Robbie Gould crushes a 58-yard field goal to reduce Cincinnati's advantage to four points... and eventually win the game by a field goal.
When asked about why they passed on second down, Gruden told reporters that he's not second guessing himself, even saying that "it's not a crime to throw it but we have to do get better in the running game."
The issue isn't about gaining yards. There's less than a minute in the first half. The Bengals have a seven-point lead and will get the ball back to open the second half. By running the football on second down, the Bears have to use their final timeout at some point leaving maybe ten seconds on the clock. And with Devin Hester on their punt return team, they're using that final timeout. It's a question of how much time is left on the clock.
I don't buy the explanation, but perhaps the blame shouldn't be on Gruden alone. Calling a second down pass is one thing. It's aggressive play calling that didn't work out -- and I like aggressive play calling. But Kirkpatrick's personal foul is a mental and emotional mistake that was equally, if not more, costly.
On the punt following the second down incompletion, Kirkpatrick was shoved out in the back by Eric Weems out of bounds. Kirkpatrick retaliated with a shove after the play, earning a personal foul.
Instead of the Bears starting at their own 41-yard line, now they're on Cincinnati's 44. And two plays later, the Bears convert a field goal -- and win by three points.
Kirkpatrick was fuming after the play, perhaps at the injustice of being flagged.
Maybe he didn't deserve it. Maybe he realizes his error. Either way, it's another hard lesson that the young man had to learn.