If you ask Bears defensive players, the NFL emphasis on taunting is actually an overemphasis.
The league has instructed officials to "emphasize" the existing rule against players who taunt opponents through their words or by posing in front of or over players. It burned both the Bears and Cincinnati Bengals Sunday in Chicago's 20-17 win at Soldier Field.
Bengals safety Von Bell took a taunting penalty after swatting down an Andy Dalton pass in the first half with the Bears backed up at their own 5-yard line facing second-and-12.
Later it was Bears safety Tashaun Gipson being flagged for taunting after Ja'Marr Chase couldn't hold on to a pass from Joe Burrow on third-and-5.
"You know, they didn't really explain much to me about that," Gipson said. "I wasn't really saying much. I just clapped, man. It was a huge play on third down. Pumping up my guys.
'That's just the type of things, the energy that you're playing with these guys. I don't want to be out there if I can't be happy for my guys when they make big plays. That's what this game is about. It's just adrenaline. It was costly and that was something I just can't do, put our team in that third down and it's hard to get off the field."
Gipson painted himself as a player who doesn't usually get into disrespecting opponents, which is what the rule emphasis seeks to eliminate.
"But that rule, it's a fine line right now," Gipson said. "You don't know if you can be happy, you don't know if you can.
"I don't want to go into detail about it. But any time my guys make a play, I'm gonna be the first one to congratulate them and be happy and it's adrenaline."
Neither penalty led to a score but it didn't matter to the Bears defense.
"I mean, I'm gonna say it's BS," cornerback Jaylon Johnson said. "At the end of the day, nobody did anything excessive. Nobody did anything that caught anybody's eye. At the end of the day, that's their calls. We've gotta live with it, respect it."
Johnson said it's going to lead to some awfully subdued celebrations.
"But I mean, for us, we're gonna keep bringing the same energy out there," he said. "We were telling them, keep bringing the energy, keep celebrating. But we've gotta celebrate with ourselves. We can't get anywhere close to the offense or anything like that. Just celebrate within ourselves and keep bringing the juice."
The one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty the Bears did get burned by on defense was when Robert Quinn was flagged for knocking down Burrow as he ran out of bounds for a sack on third-and-16 in the third quarter. The 15 yards wasn't enough for a first down by itself, but the penalty carries along an automatic first down.
Quinn didn't reach out to push Burrow but made contact with his shoulder pad. On replays, it almost appeared as if Burrow simply ran into him.
Cincinnati went on to Evan McPherson's 53-yard field goal on the drive after that first down, when the Bengals otherwise would have been punting.
"We're both running the same direction," Quinn said. "He ran into me. So. I don't know.
"The game has gotten a little softer. So it is what it is."