There are tough ways to lose, and there are tougher ways to lose. And then there’s what the Bears lived through on Sunday in front of their hometown fans when Cody Parkey missed a 43-yard game winning field goal in the dying seconds of their wild card playoff game against the Eagles.
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The kick hit the upright. And the crossbar.
It was so nearly good. The kick was inches away from success, striking the left upright. But even then it had a chance, descending to smack the crossbar and falling … on the wrong side of it. Eagles 16, Bears 15.
A slight adjustment by Parkey and it might have been good. Had Treyvon Hester of the Eagles not got a little piece of the ball, the trajectory would have been different, and it might have been good. Had the Eagles not called time out before the Bears’ first snap, had Parkey not gone ahead and kicked that one (and made it) … any little thing could be the difference when the difference is inches.
The previous standard-setter for kicking agony, Scott Norwood’s failed game-winner in Super Bowl XXV for the Bills, at least was a clean miss.
“You can’t make this up,” Parkey said. “I feel terrible.”
It wasn’t the first time.
Parkey missed two field goals and two extra points against the Lions earlier in the season. Somehow all four of those misses hit the upright as well. In Week 17 he did it again against the Vikings.
Parkey had been hot.
Earlier in the game, he had hit field goals of 36, 29 and 34 yards, accounting for 9 of the Bears 15 points.
The Bears were the better team.
Chicago seemed poised for a solid playoff run. It was a 6-point favorite over Philadelphia, the biggest spread of the round. The Bears were 12-4 in the regular season and had won nine of their last 10, and had lost only one home game this season.
The Eagles shouldn’t even have been there.
Philadelphia had to win five of their last six to sneak into the playoffs at 9-7. Even then, the Eagles would have been out had the Vikings managed to win in the final week of the season. But the Vikings lost. To the Bears. Oops.
The Bears are in desperate need of playoff success.
The proud franchise was returning to the playoffs for the first time in eight years. After seasons with three and five wins, fans were convinced that young quarterback Mitch Trubisky was ready to bring that success.
It isn’t even the record.
Well, two bangs off the goal post may be the N.F.L. record. But Ivan Perisic of Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga hit a shot in 2014 that struck the crossbar and both posts, for the major sports record of three.
There was no silver lining.
In the second most famous kicking incident in N.F.L. history (after Norwood’s wide right), Garo Yepremian of the Dolphins had a field goal attempt blocked in Super Bowl VII, then inexplicably picked it up and tried to pass it, resulting in a pick six that put the Redskins back in the game. But the incident is remembered fondly because of the comic sight of the undersized Yepremian trying to pass and because the Dolphins won the game to complete the N.F.L.’s only perfect season.
It’s hard to see Bears fans remembering this game fondly.
Even the mascot was devastated.
As the ball hurtled through the air, mascot Staley da Bear, carefully positioned right under the goal posts, lifted his arms to indicate “good.” When the kick was in fact not good, Staley fell over, flat on the ground, his feet in the air.
Internet fans who weren’t so invested in the game quickly hailed Staley as the true hero of the moment, praising his comic timing. Perhaps there’s a silver lining after all.
The Bears did not respond to a request to interview Staley.