When attempting a fourth-quarter comeback, it’s generally good to know how much time is left in the game.
It was good thing for the Bears in Sunday’s win over Minnesota—but maybe not for Soldier Field’s already bad reputation—that the Vikings didn’t know.
Throughout Sunday’s game the Soldier Field clock was malfunctioning. That forced referee Ron Torbert to have to keep and periodically announce the time remaining in a given quarter, which left Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer angry postgame.
“It’s another new experience,” Zimmer said. “It’s hard to know because no one is telling you how much time is left. The clocks here are bull****. The whole day it’s going out so it’s just another thing. Excuse my language.”
The situation was particularly beneficial to the Bears on the game’s final drive. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings were attempting tie the game, but were only generally aware of how much time was left based on Torbert’s periodic announcements.
Minnesota did not have any timeouts remaining so it was difficult to determine when they might have needed to spike the ball and stop the clock. It was an obvious advantage for the Bears.
The drive ultimately ended with Bridgewater throwing an interception.
“Ultimatlely if we win the game we won’t care about the clock,” Vikings center John Sullivan said. “I can understand that perspective, especially when you’re out there in a two-minute drive, but we were just out there playing, we almost forgot about the whole thing.
“That shouldn’t be an issue you face in this league with amount of money this league brings in. The infrastructure should be working 100 percent of the time, but it is what it is.”
SMG released a statement after the game that said it is “undetermined what caused the issues.” Daktronics, the manufacturer of the Soldier Field scoring and timing system, is investigating whether the issues were software or hardware related.
Daktronics has a preventative maintenance program that has two technicians on site for every game. Those technicians were unable to fix the malfunction during Sunday’s game.
Bears defensive end Jared Allen offered a more lighthearted take on the situation.
“It [was] like the fastest third quarter of my life,” Allen said. “It’s different because you don’t really know where you’re at. You’re just trying to rally around players. But it’s out of your control. You just focus on the play at hand.”