When Cole Kmet received a penalty flag for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, he was pleased.
The Bears were on the move, third-and-5 at the 9-yard line following his short reception.
"Well when I saw the flag, I thought we were going to be first-and-goal because I thought maybe some other player came over and said something to a ref or something and they threw the flag on him, Kmet said.
Of course, Kmet was the one flagged and the penalty was a key point early in a Bears postseason defeat because they would need to settle for a Cairo Santos field goal after a second-and-20.
The Bears on Monday still were trying to figure out why officials flagged Kmet. Some words between Kmet and Janoris Jenkins appeared to be said on the replay, but no shoving or anything of an aggressive sort occurred and when officials got involved Kmet flipped the ball into the air over Jenkins and to an official.
"Then when they named my number, I was a little confused and was asking for an explanation," Kmet said. "And I got a couple different ones from each of the refs. But yeah like I said, just unfortunate that that had to happen because of the situation we were in in the game and it being a playoff game. So it was unfortunate. But it is what it is now."
There was a bit more to it.
"Well they said I was aggressively, like, tossing the ball," Kmet said. "First they said it was at them. Then they said it was at 27 (Jenkins). So. I don't know. It was unfortunate because that was a critical moment in the game, I think.
"Early in the game and we have an opportunity to go down after a turnover and put some points on the board. And now we're in a spot now where we have to fight for field position to kick a field goal."
Kmet had never received a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct at any point in his football career, and laughed at the suggestion.
After the game, Bears coach Matt Nagy said officials told him Kmet's frustration was aimed at Jenkins.
"The explanation that was told to me is that he was throwing the ball to the player," Nagy said.
If Kmet was doing this, his aim was horrible. He was standing by Jenkins and the ball went over Jenkins to an official and was tossed up into the air, not thrown on a line.
"Cole and our coaches on staff said he was throwing the ball to the ref," Nagy said. "So I was told that he was throwing the ball to the player, like he was taunting."
Nagy found Kmet's story more credible.
"When Cole says he was throwing the ball to the ref, until I see it I've got to believe what he was saying," Nagy said.
It wasn't the only unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Later wide receiver Anthony Miller and Saints defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson exchanged words and then Miller struck out at him and officials quickly flagged both players.
However, they hit the Bears with a worse penalty because they ejected Miller. He was already taking up some of the snaps injured Darnell Mooney would take, so the Bears had to use Javon Wims, Riley Ridley and return man DeAndre Carter in the receiver corps extensively.
"I think that that's a start for us to realize, you wanna go ahead and do damage in the playoffs, you can see situationally, discipline-wise, all that stuff, how we gotta be better," Nagy said. "So we have to be better in a lot of different areas and that's my job to make sure that happens and we gotta learn from that."