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Referee Scott Novak: Bears coach Matt Nagy ‘crosses line’ with ‘inappropriate language’

Back judge Terrence Miles flagged Nagy for unsportsmanlike conduct during their argument over Miles’ call against safety Deon Bush for unnecessary roughness.

Bears coach Matt Nagy got hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct flag Monday night.
Bears coach Matt Nagy got hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct flag Monday night.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The Bears’ Matt Nagy became the first NFL coach this season to get flagged for an interaction with an official. He got an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty between the first and second quarters because he “[crossed] a line” by using “inappropriate language” toward back judge Terrence Miles, according to referee Scott Novak.

“I won’t repeat what was said, but when it crosses a line and it’s inappropriate, then that’s when we throw a flag,” Novak said after the Bears’ 17-9 loss to the Vikings on Monday.

He said they didn’t give Nagy a warning before he went too far.

“It’s tough to warn because we don’t know where the conversation is going,” Novak said. “So if it ends up going in that direction and it gets to where we need to throw a flag, we throw it.”

Nagy became irate after Miles flagged Bears safety Deon Bush for unnecessary roughness while breaking up a downfield pass on third-and-seven against Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin. The penalty gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs at the Bears’ 35-yard line, and they went on to kick a field goal for a 10-0 lead.

Novak added that the call against Bush was correct because it is irrelevant that Bush was going for the ball when he hit Conklin’s head.

“With a defenseless receiver, the defender is always responsible for avoiding any illegal contact or illegal act,” Novak said. “When he makes contact with the head, even if he’s going for the ball, it’s still a foul. If he’s attempting to dislodge the ball, or intercept, he still cannot make illegal contact, forcibly, to the offensive [player’s head], since he’s defenseless.”