Bears’ Eddie Jackson calls for referee accountability after PI flag

Eddie Jackson calls for refs to be held accountable after PI call originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears defense needed a stop and they needed it badly. They struggled all day, but the offense played great to keep the team in the game. On a 2nd-and-10 play from the Dolphins’ 18-yard line, Jalen Waddle scampered down the field. The Bears were playing their remarkable Cover 2 defense and Eddie Jackson picked it up. Tua Tagovailoa pulled up a jumper and Jackson and Waddle made a play on the ball. The ball was tossed high and bounced off Waddle’s hands, incomplete. The Bears defense was primed to finally get a stop to set up their offense with good field position. But then they weren’t.

There was a flag on the play. Jackson bumped Waddle on his way to the ball, and the contact was ruled worthy of a defensive pass interference penalty.

“Make a play on the ball, try to become a receiver like we’re taught as DBs,” Jackson said of the game from his perspective. “So as I’m playing the ball, I think I’m there and I feel the guy hit me, so it’s like I don’t know what they’re yelling. I thought it was offensive PI, and then the referee called it against me. So I turned to him and said, “Hey, how’s that flag?” He said he didn’t see me play the ball.

“I do not know what to say. You’re the referee, you’re right on the sidelines, I don’t know how you didn’t see me play the ball. Replay will show you, I didn’t look at the receiver once the entire time. I played the ball all the way in the air, so it’s like crazy.”

However, things got crazier a few minutes later. This time the Bears had the ball with a chance to tie with a field goal or take the lead with a touchdown. On 3rd and 10, Justin Fields lofted a ball to Chase Claypool for a deep strike. Claypool tackled Dolphins DB Keion Crossen, so Crossen grabbed Claypool by the waist and pulled him down. Given the ticker-tack call on the other side of the field, the Bears looked poised to continue their drive, already in scoring range. But then they weren’t.

There was no flag on the play. The Bears had to quickly rally for their fourth down conversion attempt.

“Justin threw me a good ball to give me a chance, then I felt like I got pulled back a little bit,” Claypool said of his perspective on the game. “You still have to try to fight through it and get it because you can’t rely on anyone else. I can only rely on myself.

“I thought, especially after the one that went against us, that I thought for sure (it was a penalty), but it doesn’t really matter what I think.”

Referees miss calls. It’s part of the game. The Bears had a hard time swallowing those two calls, though, because of the seemingly accidental contact that got Jackson’s attention compared to the more obvious contact that wasn’t for Claypool.

“I haven’t caught a dude,” Jackson said.

Blaming the refs for the Bears loss is a bit of a stretch. The refs didn’t let Waddle and Tyreek Hill get open all game against the Bears’ zone defense, nor did they block Trenton Gill’s punt for a special teams touchdown. Those two plays felt impactful as the Bears tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter. If the Bears had been able to get a stop on 3rd and 10, who knows what their offense could have done with better field position on the ensuing drive. If the refs had flagged Crossen, they would have had a great chance of at least equalizing.

“I just feel like we’re held accountable, (the referees) have to be held accountable in some way,” Jackson said. “Sometimes it’s amazing. I don’t know, you’ll just be speechless because nothing will happen. We have to accept this loss. We have to live with it without a call, and as we go home, they go home. If we say something about (the referees), they fine us. They call what they want and they are good.

“It’s really out of our control, but I just want the league to start holding everyone accountable, the players and the refs.”

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