On Sunday morning, Chicago was treated to a torrential downpour that dumped more than three inches of rain in an hour on the city, causing flooding of streets and basements, and also the new sod laid down at Soldier Field.
The videos of the field conditions prior to the 49ers-Bears game went viral on Sunday morning, as crews tried to squeegee the field as best as they could to get things ready for play.
While they got rid of the worst of the puddles on the surface, there was still a considerable amount of water on the field that made life very difficult on the players, as ever step they took sent water splashing up and it looked like more like a kid’s splash pad at a park than a football field. As such, things like running, cutting, and kicking were very difficult to do, and points were at a premium. The 49ers took a 7-0 lead into halftime, with the Bears offense barely able to move the ball, but they had their best drive in the late second quarter setting up what should’ve been a long field goal to get on the board.
However, as they set up for the field goal, punter and holder Pat O’Donnell brought a towel out with him to try and dry off the field where the kick would take place from. The problem is, that’s apparently against the rules, and the Bears were hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct 15-yard penalty, pushing them out of range and forcing them to punt instead.
It’s not a rule you hear of often, but we all learned a little something today. If you want to clear a spot for a kick, you have to sneakily have a grounds crew member do it while clearing snow like in New England, not with the holder and a towel in the rain.