“It was clear to me. I was over the goal line,” Bennett said. “First my feet, followed by the ball. It definitely broke the plane.”
Then why was the score discarded, with the referees saying Bennett was down by contact at the 1-yard line?
“When I tried to get in the end zone I had to bend it flat,” said Bennett. “Jay [Cutler] had thrown it across my back shoulder which I thought was a great throw. It was right on target. The guy jumped in front of me so nobody saw the play properly.
“[Packers safety Ha Ha] Clinton-Dix blocked their view, blocked the view of the on-field camera. The referee told me that they just couldn’t see it clearly on the replay as the other guy was blocking the ball. I definitely felt it was a touchdown. But that factor, to me, was why my touchdown wasn’t recorded.”
The play resulted in the ball being downed at the 1-yard line and the clock running out on the first half without a score. Whether or not those six points would have made a difference in Chicago’s 38-17 loss is still open to discussion, but in Bennett’s mind, that one play helped turn the game’s momentum in favor of the Packers.
“It was Green Bay 21, Chicago 17 at that point,” Bennett said. “That six or seven points would have given us something positive going into the locker room. Yes we had the opportunity to come back in the third quarter, but it didn’t happen. I’m convinced having that score denied had something to do with that.”
The Bears got an impressive 496 net yards in the game, compared to Green Bay’s 358. Bennett had nine receptions for a career-high 134 receiving yards. But for the veteran tight end, it’s not the number of yards on the board but the effectiveness in the red zone that matters most.
“That’s why I felt the score was important,” Bennett said. “We had to prove we could produce effectively in that area of the field. Moving the ball back and forth isn’t necessarily going to win the game. That’s where field goals and touchdowns come into play.”
Turnovers were also a problem for Chicago’s offense today – Cutler threw two second-half interceptions from which the Bears could not recover – as Bennett readily admitted.
“Look at the stats,” Bennett said. “[Aaron] Rodgers was on fire. No turnovers at all for Green Bay. We had what, two interceptions and a fumble? I think that’s right. You can’t win when those kinds of things happen.”
Cutler ended the day with a quarterback rating of 82.5 compared to Rodgers’ 151.2, which was a major factor in the outcome.
“I don’t know who was saying the Packers were struggling coming into this game,” said Bennett. “To me it seemed that they did just about everything right. The positive thing for us was that we put up a whole lot of yards but we definitely should have scored more.”
Bennett also addressed a minor collision with Alshon Jeffery due to a misread play.
“It was kind of like a fender bender. I saw Alshon coming to the ball and I tried to slow down but my cleats slipped on the grass. We gently collided out there. It was kind of typical of how things went for us today.”
Bennett didn’t blame conditions on a newly sodded Soldier Field for the Bears’ lack of success.
“It’s not like you are playing on golf course grass,” Bennett said. “It’s natural, kind of unpredictable. But the turf conditions we faced were exactly the same for Green Bay.”
For Bennett, the loss to Green Bay was something that may take a while to get over.
“You never want to lose to your rivals,” he said. “They came down here to our house and walked out the winner. That’s the last thing any of us wanted. Going in today we viewed this one as one we’d be winning for our fans. It was more than getting the win just to have the W in your record. It was upsetting to be honest. The positive is that guys kept playing the whole game and never gave up. That is something we are proud of. We wanted to win and we never lay down. The unfortunate fact is that they were the better team today.”
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 14 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.