To some NFL fans, there are few meaningless touchdowns. The Bears appeared to score one Sunday in their wild-card playoff game loss to the Saints, but those fans knew differently.
They were giddy at the possibility of a January miracle after the TD. Then the NFL rulebook hit and crushed their hopes.
Translation: The Bears could have covered the point spread if they were able to go for two after scoring with no time remaining in the fourth quarter.
Chicago took the clock all the way down to zero as Mitchell Trubisky connected with Jimmy Graham on a wild touchdown pass that cut the Bears’ deficit to 21-9. Pregame betting on the contest closed with the Saints favored by 11.
A few years ago, the Bears would have been able to attempt a PAT kick to make it an 11-point game, giving Chicago bettors a push, or to go for two to make it a 10-point game, giving those bettors a chance at an improbable win.
Neither happened Sunday because the NFL changed the rule for end-of-game conversions following Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs’ walk-off touchdown vs. the Saints in the 2018 playoffs. The teams in that game were called out of the locker room for one untimed play. The Vikings (-5.5) took a knee to end a five-point win.
Rule 4, Section 8, Article 2(c) of the rulebook lays out the new conditions:
(c) If a touchdown is made on the last play of a period, the Try attempt shall be made (except during a sudden-death period, or
if a touchdown is scored during a down in which time in the fourth period expires, and a successful Try would not affect the
outcome of the game).
The league acknowledged what happened with a tweet on the NFL Officiating account.
Not all Bears backers were bummed about what happened. Those who added points to the spread as part of multiteam teasers picked up a huge backdoor W.
@TheOddsFathers just scored my greasiest win ever. I had a teaser on the bears at +17. The final 3 minutes of that game was everything I needed to happen to win
— Chris Evernden (@bropranolol) January 11, 2021
Favorites were 2-0 against the spread in Sunday’s afternoon games after underdogs covered all three wild-card games Saturday. The Ravens (-3.5) cashed at the Titans in the first game.