A Different Level of Hurt: The Chicago Bears

I’ve run into a problem since Sunday's Chicago Bears match-up against the Eagles. I can not escape what transpired on that faithful day in Chicago. The ball went up and careened left and hit off the left upright. For the sixth and last time in the season the Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey hit one of the uprights. As I watched I couldn’t believe it. How could I believe it? The Bears had done what I thought impossible. I had given up after the Eagles scored a touchdown on fourth down from the two yard line. I didn’t trust Trubisky to actually lead the team into field goal range and was joking that if he did Parkey would miss anyways. Then Cohen returned the kickoff to the 42 yard line and my hopes returned. We actually had a chance.

Cody Parkey missed the game winning field goal. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Sun Times)

Watching the last drive I felt so many emotions because I had said after the Eagles touchdown that I was okay with a loss. I convinced myself that I did not want to go through the same emotions the very next week. I felt sick watching the game as my emotions leaped around after every play. I said, “Oh, I hope the Bears lose so I don’t have to go through this again next week”, but I didn’t mean it. I identify as a pessimistic Bears fan that lives by the phrase, “Unfortunately I’m a Bears fan.” For years that meant my teams head coach is Marc Trestman or John Fox, but now that means only one thing. My team is the one whose kicker hit the upright on a game winning field goal in the playoffs.

When the Bears final drive started I was cautiously optimistic. Trubisky hadn’t been in a situation that was high pressure, but he had played well in the fourth quarter. Then shockingly they actually moved the ball downfield. I was partially shocked because they hadn’t moved the ball well all game. But football doesn’t operate in ways that make sense most of the time. Teams can be up 28–3 in the third quarter and still lose. A 18–0 team can lose in the super bowl to a 13–6 team. That’s why the sport is so entertaining. It’s physical and strategic, and unpredictable. The Bears moved the ball to the 34 with a fantastic pass from Trubisky to Robinson and were apparently in Cody Parkey’s field goal range. I was jumping for joy and running around the room screaming. Jordan Howard got us 8 more yards and there was only a 43 yard field goal standing between the Bears and the divisional round in Los Angeles. The shot to the end zone wasn’t my favorite idea because I still didn’t trust Parkey, but I was confident. He couldn’t possibly miss a 43 yard field goal.

I was a complete and utter mess while Parkey lined up to kick the field goal for the first time. I was expecting the Eagles to ice the kicker with the timeout they saved, but was hoping they wouldn’t. “Parkey doesn’t need more time to think about it”, I yelled. He kicked it and it went in, but the Eagles had iced him and he would have to kick again. Watching the first kick go in raised my confidence to 100%. I was jumping around guaranteeing a win. Then the teams lined up for the kick again. I stopped jumping and watched. The ball was kicked and started angling to the left. I gasped as I was watching. The ball continued to go left and then it hit the upright. It hit the upright and I collapsed immediately. I didn’t even know it hit the crossbar until 15 minutes later.

Apparently the kick was tipped, but as I’ve watched the tape around 50 times and tipped balls do not do what Parkey’s kick did. It didn’t wobble and didn’t lose any of the power. It also doesn’t matter if it was tipped because he had to kick it with the proper trajectory. A 43 yard field goal doesn’t need to be on a line where it would be tipped by a player on the other team. If it was blocked due to a blocking mistake then Parkey would be off the hook, but it wasn’t.

I can’t escape this play. The national championship had 2 kicks hit the upright and every sports podcast I enjoy talks about the kick. I waited to write this because I wanted my thoughts to be complete on the topic. I wasn’t ready yesterday to write this because of how the ball effected me. That moment struck me to my core.

Devastation, Disbelief, Demoralizing: The Chicago Bears in a nutshell.