Tuesday, October 19, 2010
NFC North Week 6 decisive moment
By Kevin Seifert
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NFL teams are always looking for momentum shifters, and Chicago Bears kick returner Danieal Manning appeared to give his team a big one early in the fourth quarter Sunday at Soldier Field.
The Seattle Seahawks had just jumped out to a 23-13 lead, and the Bears' offense was struggling to sustain drives. Enter Manning, the hard-charging safety/returner who is a threat every time he touches the ball. As if on cue, Manning fielded the ensuing kickoff, broke four tackles and sprinted 89 yards into the end zone.
The touchdown would have brought the Bears to within three points with 13 minutes, 45 seconds remaining. The minor deficit would have given them more play-calling flexibility for the duration of the fourth quarter, but a holding call on Rod Wilson brought the touchdown back. Replays showed Wilson's hand on the left side of a Seahawks cover man just as Manning ran past them, but the block otherwise appeared textbook.
Regardless, the Bears assumed possession at their 9-yard line and they shifted to a frenzied catch-up mode their offense couldn't sustain. Eighteen of their 20 fourth-quarter plays were passes, and they didn't close the deficit until Devin Hester returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown with 1:54 left. The score was too late, however. As it turned out, the reversal of Manning's return was a decisive moment in this game.