If Cody Parkey hits it another 5,000 times – and he’s young enough to do it in his dreams – it’s unlikely the Chicago Bears kicker would replicate the ensuing pinball blizzard that ended his team’s season Sunday at Soldier Field.
On the verge of winning their Wild Card game against the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles, Parkey leaned into a 43-yard attempt with 10 seconds to play and the Bears trailing, 16-15.
Just a moment earlier, Parkey split the posts on the same kick, a reflex action a split-second after the Eagles called their last time out to ice him.
He was not iced. Parkey lined up at the right hash, perfect snap, perfect hold and swung his right foot again. What happened next will hibernate in Bears video caves forever.
Step one: Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester tipped the field goal as it was taking flight. With the wind swirling left to right, the ball veered slightly left.
Step two: The ball clanked into the left post about midway up and ricocheted downward and to the right. If it had kissed the inside facing of the post instead, it would have successfully traversed the crossbar.
Step three: The ball bounded downward and hit the outside face of the crossbar and back down to the field. It has kissed the inside edge, it also likely would have been good.
“You can’t make this up,” said Parkey, who knows because he’d hit four other goal posts this season.
In that split-second, the Bears season ended, the Eagles moved on to a Divisional Round game in New Orleans and a Wild Card weekend that saw three division champs, the Bears, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans outed, ended.
On Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts will play at Kansas City (4:35 p.m. ET) followed by Dallas at the Los Angeles Rams (8:15 p.m). On Sunday, the Los Angeles Chargers play at New England (1:05 p.m.) and the Eagles will be in New Orleans (4:40 p.m.).
Now, back to Parkey and the Eagles.
“I feel terrible,” Parkey said at his locker after the game. “I let the team down. It’s on me. I have to own it. I have to be a man. Unfortunately, that’s the way it went today. I thought I hit a great ball. I was trying to play the wind.”
It’s been a strange season for Parkey, who signed for $9 million. On Nov. 11 in Chicago, he missed two field goals and two extra points off the upright four times in a Bears win. After that disaster, he made 13 of his final 15 field goals, all but on extra point and had cranked three all three field goal attempts on Sunday.
“One person didn’t lose this game,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “We lost this game together.”
That sentiment was prevalent across the sports spectrum, as stars from other sports felt compelled to weigh in to defend Parkey.
“Most of you have no idea how hard this is to do,” tweeted Bears fan Dwayne Wade. “Cody Parkey way to face the media like a true professional. I’m a fan!”
“We’ve all been here Cody but if you wanna win back the city you gotta get back in the lab and have a historic season next year to bury this one,” Kobe Bryant tweeted. “I’m happy for my #EaglesNation but as a fellow pro athlete you gotta grind harder and double down.”
On the other side of the field, the incredulously delighted side, the Eagles reveled in their fourth straight win with Super Bowl Nick “St. Nick” Foles back at quarterback.
The Eagles were practically counted out – 4-6 after a 48-7 loss at in New Orleans heading into Week 11 – when Foles took over for injured Carson Wentz again before Game 15 at the Rams. Then the Eagles beat the Rams and the Texans and the Redskins and earned a Wild Card when the Minnesota Vikings choked at home in Week 17 against the Bears. They won six of their last seven.
How can we forget that it was Foles who led the Philadelphia to its first NFL Championship since 1960 after Wentz was hurt in Week 14 in 2017. The hope he might do it again is bringing Eagles fans back to worship.
Chicago came in with the league’s best defense and Foles responded with 266 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions with his running game totally shut down (42 yards). He was OK, like Norm Snead. He was workmanlike, like Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham. But he was clutch, unlike Donovan McNabb.
On the Eagles last drive, Foles completed 6-of-9 passes for 60 yards. Eventually, the Eagles were faced with a fourth-and-goal from the Bears’ 2 with 56 seconds to play.
Philadelphia called a time out and Foles asked coach Doug Pederson to consider a sprint-out pass because he was anticipating the blitz. Pederson nodded. Foles took the snap, rolled right and led Golden Tate with a pass that took the receiver into the lower right corner of the end zone.
Foles had the best quarterback rating (87.3) of any passer in the Wild Card Round. His winning percentage (.676) in the best in Eagles history. And the Elias Sports Bureau tells us he is one of five QBs in the modern era to win five straight games as an underdog.
Those who doubt Foles and the power of belief and momentum do so at their own risk.
What’s more, the win paid him a $1 million bonus. When the Eagles renegotiated his deal after the season, they loaded it with incentives. He was to get $500,000 for playing in 33 percent of snaps in a playoff game and $500,000 if the Eagles won. He’ll have a chance to make a million more at New Orleans.
So, as it turned out, one guy’s bad bounce led to another’s good bounce. Just another day in the NFL.