Cole Kmet: First-ever unsportsmanlike-conduct flag came at ‘critical moment’

Cole Kmet saw the flag Sunday and thought the Bears were going to set up for first-and-goal. The penalty, he assumed, was against the Saints.

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Bears tight end Cole Kmet is tackled in the second quarter Sunday.

Bears tight end Cole Kmet is tackled in the second quarter Sunday.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Rookie tight end Cole Kmet saw the flag Sunday and thought the Bears were about to get a first-and-goal play. He assumed the penalty was on the Saints.

Kmet was stunned when he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Rather than having a third-and-five at the Saints’ 9 in the second quarter, the Bears faced third-and-20. They eventually kicked a field goal.

The incident started after safety Malcolm Jenkins tackled the Notre Dame alum. Kmet said the two were “kinda laughing about the play” when he tossed the ball to the official. 

Out came the flag. It was Kmet’s first unsportsmanlike-conduct flag at any level.

“They told me that I was throwing the ball egregiously at [Jenkins],” he said Monday. “But, I mean, that just wasn’t the case. Later in the game, [Jenkins] even said that they got away with one there. 

‘‘They said I was aggressively, like, tossing the ball. First, they said it was at [the official]. Then they said it was at [Jenkins]. So I don’t know.

‘‘It was unfortunate because that was a critical moment in the game. [It’s] early in the game, and we have an opportunity to go down after a turnover and put some points on the board. And now we’re in a spot where we have to fight for field position to kick a field goal. So it was really unfortunate for that to happen in that situation in the game.”

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