-- CHICAGO -- The final sequence at the end of Sunday's first half in Chicago was so wild that it took up 10 lines of space in the play-by-play portion of the NFL's official score sheet.
The craziness began with 6 seconds until halftime, when Chicago Bears special-teams ace Sherrick McManis blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt by Pittsburgh that Marcus Cooper scooped up on the run.
Cooper had nothing but daylight between him and the end zone, but he inexplicably slowed down right before he crossed the goal line and was hit from behind by the Steelers' Vance McDonald. Cooper fumbled the ball into the end zone, but Pittsburgh punter/holder Jordan Berry swatted the ball out of bounds before a Bears player could fall on it.
"I thought I was in, but obviously I wasn't," Cooper said after the game. "The guy came in and made a good play."
"I had a similar situation that happened a few years ago in Denver," coach John Fox said. "He will learn from it. Nobody feels worse than he does. It's a matter of focus and finishing. He understands that."
Initially, referee Clete Blakeman ruled the play a fumble, but he announced that the penalty for knocking the ball out of the end zone would not be enforced and the half was over. Pittsburgh immediately left the field and sprinted toward the locker room.
But after the officials reviewed the play, Blakeman ruled the Steelers were guilty of illegally batting the ball out of the back of the end zone, and awarded the Bears the ball at the spot of Cooper's fumble -- the 1-yard line -- and gave Chicago the opportunity to run one more play.
After the Steelers' defense returned from the locker room, Chicago lined up to run a play from the 1, but left tackle? Charles Leno?jumped offside.
After the 5-yard penalty, Chicago elected to kick a 24-yard field goal to take a 17-7 lead into halftime. The Bears won the game 23-17 in overtime.