Bears rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, a big target at 6-feet-3 and 216 pounds, says he likes to play physical football. Sunday’s officials didn’t take a liking to his physicality, however.
For a player who didn’t have a single reception, Jeffery was on the receiving end of all kinds of attention during the Bears’ 21-13 loss to the Packers at Soldier Field.
He was called for offensive pass interference three times, all in the second half while the Bears were trying to mount a comeback.
“When you look at our history, we haven’t gotten a lot of (those penalties),” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “All of them were really big plays.”
Wide receivers, especially large ones like Jeffery and his teammate Brandon Marshall (6-4, 230), are typically the beneficiaries of pass-interference penalties.
Not Jeffery on Sunday.
“It was a physical battle,” said Jeffery, who was targeted four times but whose season-reception total of 19 didn’t budge. “I just got to go back and watch the film. I am not going to put it all on the refs.”
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler took the high road on the “touchy” subject, careful not to criticize the officiating crew.
“I don’t think any of us want to get into a penalty discussion over what was right, what was called and what should have been called,” Cutler said. “I don’t think anyone wants to get fined, first of all. Secondly, that’s not what lost us this game.”
Jeffery had a great battle all day with cornerback Sam Shields, who is 4 inches shorter. Shields knocked away 3 passes, including 1 intended for Jeffery in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
“It was great (getting the offensive pass-interference calls),” Shields said. “Most of the time you don’t get those calls. Refs don’t see those (penalties) a lot.
“It’s kind of hard for us, the cornerbacks, because the receiver is going for (the ball), he’s pushing and things like that, and all we can do is fall back.”
Jeffery did draw a 53-yard pass-interference penalty on safety Morgan Burnett in the third quarter with the Bears trailing 21-7. The ball was placed at the Green Bay 5, but after Matt Forte gained 4 yards on first down, he was stopped short of the goal line twice. Then on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Cutler completed a pass in the end zone to Jeffery.
But the touchdown was negated because the officials said Jeffery pushed off.
“The play happened fast,” Jeffery said. “All I was thinking was the cornerback slipped.”
The Bears settled for Olindo Mare’s 34-yard field goal.
When the Bears got the ball back early in the fourth, Jeffery again was called for offensive pass interference, this time after a 7-yard reception.
Still later in the fourth, with the Bears trailing 21-13, Cutler and Jeffery hooked up on a 36-yard completion to the Green Bay 20.
Again, Jeffery was called for shoving Shields.
“That’s how it goes,” said linebacker Clay Matthews, who had 2 of the Packers’ 4 sacks on Cutler. “You got to play by the rules. Same with me out there. We were fortunate to have benefitted from that, but it was blatant. It was obvious. So we’ll take it.”
Shields noticed a clearly frustrated Jeffery.
“He was looking like, ‘Why are they calling it on me?’ But, hey, everybody saw it,” Shields said. “He really pushed me. I just went to the next play.”
The rookie receiver will take the same approach going forward.
“I just have to keep playing football and absorb,” Jeffery said. “I just got to block the officials out. It’s part of football.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.