John Fox on pylon call: ‘In hindsight, I would not have challenged it’

Bears coach John Fox reminded the team Monday that it was only one game.

He has to know it’s more than that.

Sunday’s loss to the rival Packers has angered Bears ownership, sources said. And the way the Bears lost has only further agitated a frustrated fan base. They committed seven penalties (plus an additional four that were declined) in the first half after a bye, made Packers quarterback Brett Hundley look at times like Aaron Rodgers and lost the ball in the red zone because of a replay challenge by Fox that backfired.

Fox’s job status is in question — although he’s likely safe until the end of the season; chairman George McCaskey said in September that the Bears would wait until then to make evaluations.

Bears coach John Fox argues a call with line judge Bart Longson on Sunday. (AP)

On Monday, Fox was still annoyed that reporters asked him last week if he feared overconfidence by his players entering the second half of the season.

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“As I reminded our team [Monday], only one game’s happened since last week, and we were the second coming [before that game],” Fox said. “All I’m saying is, one game’s occurred from our ‘overconfidence’ to now.”

What a game, though. It will be remembered for the replay challenge that Fox made that cost the Bears the ball — and probably three or seven points — with the Packers leading 23-16 in the second quarter. Rather than accept first-and-goal from the 2, Fox insisted that officials review their call that receiver Benny Cunningham stepped out of bounds as he dove with the ball toward the right pylon. They returned to announce he had fumbled the ball off the pylon, resulting in a touchback and giving the Packers the ball.

“Obviously, in those situations — hindsight is 20/20 — I probably would not challenge that if I were given the opportunity again,” Fox said.

He said he was limited in what he could say. Asked if he feared a fine from the NFL, he stayed mum.

“You’re really not allowed to respond,” he said. “Yeah.”

Fox also might have been hesitant to blame an assistant coach — positioned upstairs with access to televised replays — for advising him to challenge the call. He called his coaches “very smart guys” but said overturned calls are part of the game.

“[The assistants] saw it pretty much how I thought I saw it,” he said. “We’ll leave it at that. We have to ultimately kind of go with what the officiating crew goes with.

“In hindsight, I would not have challenged it, because it took points — however many points, we don’t know — but in my opinion, it hurt our cause.”

Fox said he was pleased with the Bears’ effort, but he also listed reasons they struggled: losing tight ends Zach Miller (knee) for the season and Dion Sims (illness) for the week; Kyle Long (finger) playing only one snap; and other injuries, such as Danny Trevathan’s strained calf, coming out of the bye week.

“Those are things that people deal with — and not just our team,” he said.

With seven games left, his team will have to deal with even more.

“The whole year has just been [that] we haven’t really quit,” tight end Adam Shaheen said. “It’s never been an effort issue.”

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

 

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