Honestly it still hurts to think about. We certainly didn’t play our best but this season sure as shit didn’t deserve to end the way many feared it might: on a missed Cody Parkey field goal. I spent most of this season trying to give Parkey the benefit of the doubt but it was clear that our kicking game was one of our major weaknesses.
What’s crazy to me is that if Parkey had actually made the kick it would have been the ultimate redemption story. What’s crazy to me is that icing the kicker actually worked for once–Parkey nailed the initial kick he tried right after the Eagles’ planned timeout. What’s crazy to me is that on the real kick the ball hits the upright at exactly the right angle and speed to fall onto the crossbar, at exactly the right angle and speed to bounce backwards and not forwards. What’s crazy to me is that replay eventually showed an Eagles player might have barely tipped the ball on the way up, which (infuriatingly) makes it harder to know how much Parkey’s to blame. And the final kicker (sorry, had to do it): Robbie Gould was at the game, watching from the stands. You can’t make this stuff up.
There were ample missed opportunities for the Bears–the three red zone trips which resulted only in field goals, the failed two point conversion, the second-to-last 4th quarter offensive possession that netted negative yards, the short punt and defensive failures that enabled the Eagles’ game-winning touchdown drive–but somehow at the end we still had a chance. With the game on the line Trubisky actually delivered a game-winning field goal drive; we just didn’t get the field goal.
Never has the single-elimination format of the NFL playoffs felt more cruel (though come to think of it, that playoff loss to the Panthers in 2006 felt terrible too). Having such a fun, fantastic season end so abruptly was a real gut punch. I watched the entire game streaming on my phone early in the morning from Shanghai, which only made it all the more surreal–though maybe a bit more bearable. And next year will only be tougher: we won’t have Vic Fangio, we’ll be playing a first place schedule and every team will have better scouting on us.
The silver lining is that this actually does feel like the start of something. The Bears significantly outperformed expectations this year, and we’ve got plenty of young talent that should only get better. Arrow trending up!