(670 The Score) Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson was mystified that he was flagged for an illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty early in the fourth quarter Sunday, a call that proved to be pivotal as it negated a Chicago interception and was quickly followed by a Detroit touchdown as the Lions erased a late 14-point deficit to rally for a 31-30 win at Soldier Field.
With just under 12 minutes left as the Bears led 24-10, Johnson was called for the penalty despite replays appearing to show that he made contact with Lions receiver Trinity Benson’s chest rather than his face right after the ball was snapped. Bears linebacker Jack Sanborn made an impressive interception on the play, one that would’ve all but sealed a win for Chicago, which instead collapsed down the stretch to drop to 3-7.
“Everybody who watched it would disagree with the call, but I mean, that’s what was called,” Johnson said.
“I asked, ‘How was it (a penalty)?’ He said I got my hands in his face. He kept it as simple as that. One of the coaches on their sideline even said that I punched him in his face. So I mean, I don’t what they’re seeing, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. It was called. But I definitely think that was a miss.”
Johnson played Sunday after being listed as questionable with an oblique injury. He felt “pain” and “discomfort” in his oblique while playing, he said, and he gave up a couple big plays.
“There’s also a realism in it too, knowing that the player isn’t the same playing through pain,” Johnson said. “But that doesn’t change the expectation or the standard of the play. Everybody is going to be graded equally throughout the game and throughout the season no matter injuries or not. At the end of the day, I know and they know as well that I wasn’t my normal self out there and I didn’t feel like that. But it was still enough to where I felt I was able to be out there and they felt like I was able to be out there and still hold me to that standard."
Johnson pushed back at the notion that it was a “rough” performance for him, though he admitted it “wasn’t a usual day at the office for me.”
“Nah, I don’t think two plays account for a rough day,” Johnson said. “I know on one of the pivot routes, I wasn’t really explosive out of my break as I normally am. And then just on my other one, just really not having too much of my explosion and kind of my twitchiness that I normally have, my strength and stability wasn’t 100%. So I feel there were just some times where I wasn’t able to go like I normally am to be able to cover those routes. But I still could’ve put myself in a better position.”