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ESPN ‘Monday Night Football’ Announcing Shortcomings Near End of Bears-Steelers

Entering the Monday night game for Nov. 8, 2021, oddsmakers set the Pittsburgh Steelers as seven-point favorites over the visiting Chicago Bears.

But the game became an intriguing, competitive contest, much more than what Vegas had thought.

Rookie quarterback Justin Fields led the Bears to a game-tying touchdown drive, shortly after the 2-minute warning. A five-yard encroachment penalty by the Steelers occurred as the Bears were about to kick for an extra point. Analyst Brian Griese then pondered: “Now you have options. Do you go for two here to potentially… you’re gonna kick this field goal either way, it’s a higher percentage to win the game.”

Going for a two-point conversion while tied would have been futile exercise. Compared to an extra point attempt, a two-point conversion has a much lower success rate. Even if the Bears were to achieve an extra two points, a Steelers field goal in the following drive still wins the game.

And, the Bears were vying for an extra point, not a “field goal.”

For the Steelers’ final possession of the game, they’d drive 52 yards for a field goal. As their kicker Chris Boswell was readying to kick the game-leading field goal, Griese suggested that Pittsburgh should “let [the clock] run down so you don’t leave any time for the Bears.” With the Bears possessing, then using their final timeout, Griese’s point instantly became moot.

With just two seconds left, the Bears could only reach as far as the Steelers’ 47-yard line, meaning the Bears kicker Cairo Santos would have to achieve the near-impossible, especially at the kicking-unfriendly confines of Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field: kick a 65-yard field goal to win the game.

As Santos made the kick, play-by-play announcer Steve Levy said, “Kick in the way… hits the crossbar and comes short.”

Upon replay of the missed kick, the ball was nowhere near the crossbar. Levy attempted to cover for his mistaken call: “Alright, the angle I saw was much different from what you will see.”

After the game, SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt subtly provided backup to his fellow ESPN personality Levy saying the mistake was understandable based on the vantage point: “I got fooled by the way it bounced. It appeared it might’ve hit the crossbar. It was actually significantly shy of the crossbar.”

The popular ESPN2 “ManningCast” hosted by brothers Peyton Manning and Eli Manning was not in action on this night. But the specter of the alternate telecast still loomed large, as the increasing rate of bad announcing flubs over on the ESPN flagship makes the ManningCast more desirable.