ST. LOUIS — The Long brothers were with father Howie and mother Diane in the tunnel under the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday night. The boys were always there for each other growing up, sometimes annoying each other, sometimes bailing the other out.
The latter was the case Sunday during the Bears’ 42-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams, which mom and dad doubtless appreciated. Earlier in the day, Bears guard Kyle took serious issue with what he saw as a cheap shot by Rams defensive lineman William Hayes and began giving Hayes the business with forearms and eventually a kick that will likely earn Long notice of a fine this week.
The situation was set up by some odd officiating which called the play intentional grounding by Bears quarterback Josh McCown and yet appeared to be late or delinquent altogether whistling the play to an end.
“I still don’t know if there was a whistle,” Kyle said. “Some of the guys said there was. You can’t lose your cool, and I lost my cool.”
Players from both teams headed into the melee, none more important that Chris Long, who ran off the bench to restrain his irate brother, probably saving Kyle from immediate ejection.
“It’s tough,” Chris said. “One of your best friends (Hayes) and your brother. Like I said, during the game, yeah, you think about (holding him back), but it’s not the first time I’ve restrained him.
“I think both of those big strong guys probably needed to be restrained there. They’re two of the strongest people I know. I’m just glad everybody got out of there OK, it’s just a heated game. If pulling him out of the pile and yoking him up is helping him ... I’m trying to get him off of my teammate just like any other situation that would arise. I don’t want us to get a flag, and one way to defuse that situation is to get everybody out of there. He happened to be the body that I saw.”
Kyle Long was not ejected in part because head referee Jerome Boger said he didn’t see the kick. Without that, Boger said Long had not done enough to warrant ejection.
“I was one of the covering officials on that play,” Boger said, “and what I had the unnecessary roughness call was for piling on, that he piled on onto a player who was already on the ground. I didn’t see a kick by him.”
Kyle’s teammates understood, and one fellow lineman angrily said he probably would have reacted exactly as Kyle had. But the overall was to appreciate the passion and support from a teammate, even when it goes a little over the line.
“The type of guys we have in the locker room and in the huddle are high-character guys, so we like to hold each other accountable,” said wide receiver Brandon Marshall. “Kyle is just like me, he plays with his emotions on his sleeve. He’s a high-energy guy.
“We just have to harness it a little better. I think we were able to overcome it, but that can hurt us down the road and Kyle knows that and Kyle will get better. We need him to get better. He’s too good of a player to let that happen.”