BOURBONNAIS -- One of the oddest and most painful plays in the Chicago Bears' recent history almost wasn't so.
The offciating crew in the Bears' season-ending 33-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers last December was not long from blowing dead the play on which Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin advanced quarterback Aaron Rodgers' fumble 15 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
Three officials who worked that game recalled the play to members of the Bears' media corps Thursday. Umpire Garth DeFelice, side judge Greg Meyer and back judge Terrence Miles are part of a group of officials visiting Bears training camp to update the team on rules changes and points of emphasis for the upcoming season.
On the Week 17 play in question, Bears defensive end Julius Peppers forced Rodgers to fumble at the Bears' 23-yard line just before Rodgers' arm began to come forward as part of his throwing motion. The ball flew forward beyond the line of scrimmage and bounced.
Bears linebacker James Anderson made a half-hearted attempt to catch the ball off the bounce, but he didn't gain possession. Most players on both teams acted as though it were an incomplete pass and the play was dead.
Boykin was the exception. He ran over to the ball and picked it up more than four seconds after it first hit the ground. After gaining possession, he waited more than two seconds before he heard people on the Packers sideline yelling for him to advance it.
According to NFL rules, when a loose ball comes to rest anywhere in the field of play, and no player attempts to recover it, the official covering the play should pause momentarily before signaling that the ball is dead. But Anderson and Boykin did make attempts to recover the ball.
The rule book does not account for a player in possession of a live ball who neither tries to advance it nor goes to the ground to indicate no effort to advance it. So the officials were correct in waiting for Boykin to act.
The three officials at Bears camp Thursday described that wait as uncomfortable and recognized how rare such a play is. They said it was included in a training video for officials prior to last postseason.
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