CHICAGO — Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy thought he had the element of surprise when he called for his punt team to sprint off the field and his offense to sprint back on it on a fourth-and-1 play a few minutes before halftime Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams.
What Nagy didn't count on was one of those offensive players steamrolling a line judge on his way out there.
The first 10 offensive players made it out there fine. But one was running a tad late. The guilty party was OT Bobby Massie, who was the 11th man on the field, and on his way out he smashed into Carl Johnson, the official closest to the Bears' sideline, knocking him over.
That, in essence, ruined the entire operation. The Bears would end up punting after head referee Craig Wrolstad announced that Johnson was "not in a position to officiate the play," resulting in an official's timeout. The Bears would end up punting once play resumed.
There were 20 seconds on the play clock when Massie knocked Johnson over. It appeared there was plenty of time for the official to regain his footing because rules state that the officiating crew will not start the play until the opponent, in this case the Rams, have a chance to substitute following the Bears' quick change.
That's what appeared to incense Nagy the most. He came out almost 20 yards onto the field to rip into the officiating crew and let them know he wasn't happy about the play in question, spending the remainder of the timeout angrily talking to the crew.
Clearly, the Bears had planned for such a situation in their week of prep for the Rams and wanted to catch them off guard, even though the Rams had every chance to send their defense back in.
The Bears would go on to earn a hard-fought 15-6 win over the Rams, but it was a taut 6-6 game at the time.
"In that time, that's such a crucial time in the game, a crucial time you prep for, for that to happen ..." Nagy said.
Nagy acknowledged that the "whole schematic part of the play was fine," save for Massie's unexpected collision. Still, afterward, Nagy made no excuses for his outburst and said he felt compelled to apologize to the officials at halftime shortly thereafter.
"We didn't execute it," he said. "We ran into [Johnson] and he fell down, so he did the right thing.
"I apologized to him, and I need to be better than that. I need to make sure we do it better next time."