The game is not over until the final whistle.
The Chicago Bears pushed that phrase to the brink, and beyond, on the final play of their loss Sunday to the New York Giants. Trailing the Giants by 20-12 with just three seconds remaining, the Bears faced a 3rd and 4 on their own 34-yard line. Needing a touchdown, and out of distance for a throw deep into the end zone, they tried to dial up a short throw and a series of laterals to create a miracle at the end of the game.
It was not to be, but it offered perhaps the perfect ending to this game.
Quarterback Justin Fields took the snap and targeted running back Trestan Ebner on a quick checkdown route. After making the catch, Ebner then flipped the ball to wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who was working across the field by design.
From there, absolute chaos ensued:
Eventually — and after the post-game fireworks were fired into the sky above MetLife Stadium — the ball hit the turf and the Giants recovered. That brought the game to a close, improving the Giants to 3-1 on the year and dropping the Bears to 2-2.
The ESPN play-by-play notation for the final snap is a thing of beauty:
Also a thing of beauty? The “dots” as provided by the NFL’s Next Gen Stats:
Believe it or not, this diagram could literally be art, as pointed out by one of the best accounts on Twitter:
Prior to the final play, the Giants missed a field goal which would have put the game out of reach for Chicago. Down the stretch, New York was limited offensively, as Daniel Jones suffered an ankle injury which sidelined him, and the team turned to Tyrod Taylor. But then Taylor suffered a concussion, and the team turned to Saquon Barkley to take snaps:
Jones would align as a wide receiver in these formations, and on a few plays he aligned under center simply to hand the ball off to either Barkley or Gary Brightwell.
Still, the story after this game might be the most unserious football play of the weekend.