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Monday, September 14, 2009
Black and Blue all over: Mannelly's explanation

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


I didn’t bother unpacking Monday morning upon returning from Cleveland. No, I went straight to the computer to find an explanation for the NFC North’s most bizarre play on opening weekend. And here it is, courtesy of this locker room video from the Chicago Tribune.

In the video, Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly describes why he sent a fourth-quarter direct snap to upback Garrett Wolfe on a fourth-and-11 play from the Bears’ 26-yard line. The play gained four yards, leaving Green Bay in field goal position for what ultimately was a 21-15 Packers victory. Mannelly confirmed the suspicions of NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth and others: He was trying to catch the Packers with 12 men on the field. (Rookie Clay Matthews ran off the field just before the snap.)

“I thought there were 12 men on the field," Mannelly said. "The original count was that there as 12. I didn’t see the guy run off the field. So we actually have a play in that if there is 12 on the field. It’s pretty much a free play. So it’s just a direct snap to Garrett and we try to get as many yards as we can. I didn’t see the guy run off the field. Unfortunately. If I would have, I would have never done that. It was just a dumb play on my part not seeing that.”



The play makes sense: The Bears have a free chance to convert the fourth down if there are 12 men on the field. If they fail, they just accept the penalty and punt. As we discussed Sunday night, this play didn’t cost the Bears the game. But it was so unusual that I think it merited an explanation.

Continuing around the NFC North on a later version of our morning spin: