The Bears were in position to win, but fell short of a trip to the L.A. Coliseum
Everything seemed to be breaking the Bears’ way down the stretch this season. Big wins against tough opponents allowed them to build confidence and rack up 12 wins – an unimaginable tally at the beginning of this season.
And even though the game hadn’t been as lopsided in favor of the Bears as many thought it would be, they managed to grab a 15-10 lead against the Eagles and put the game in the hands of their defense with less than 5 minutes to go. But the Eagles broke through on 4th-and-goal to take a 16-15 lead, putting it on the Bears offense – and the leg of Cody Parkey – to score one more time.
Set up at the Philadelphia 25-yard-line with 0:10 to go, it looked like the Bears would pull it out anyway – before Parkey’s kick banged off the left upright, and then the crossbar, those two doinks accounting for the only noise in a dead-silent Soldier Field as the Bears’ playoff aspirations fell short.
They lost. It’s over. And I’m here to tell you about it.
The first half: An AWOL offense
The Bears defense more than did its job in the first half, allowing an Eagles field goal on the game-opening drive but no points beyond that across the first two quarters.
The offense, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. They barely moved the ball at all on their first drive, and after the defense stonewalled the Eagles and forced them to punt from their own endzone, the Bears offense couldn’t score despite starting on the Philadelphia 48-yard-line.
But sometimes you just have to wait for this offense to get enough opportunities from the Bears defense – and on the next Eagles possession, Nick Foles was picked off as Roquan Smith flat-out took the ball from RB Wendell Smallwood.
The Bears got a game-tying field goal out of that possession, but then couldn’t capitalize on a second Foles INT to Adrian Amos in the endzone. A long Bears drive to end the first half culminated with another field goal giving them a 6-3 – but that three-point advantage felt more like a win for the Eagles, as their defense was every bit as stingy as the Bears’.
The second half: Trubisky takes over
As bad a first half as Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense had, in the second half it was their turn to pick up the defense.
The first Eagles possession of the third quarter resulted in the first touchdown of the game for either squad, leaving the Bears to pick themselves out of a 10-6 hole. And while they only managed a field goal between their next two possessions, they weren’t about to leave it at 10-9.
The ensuing Eagles drive was a three-and-out, and then Trubisky absolutely went off. A 19-yard strike to Taylor Gabriel bailed the Bears out on 3rd-and-11, and after a Jordan Howard rush, Trusbisky bombed it another 34 yards to Joshua Bellamy, setting the Bears up deep in Eagles territory. A play later, they had their touchdown – one more airstrike, this time to Allen Robinson.
They failed the conversion, but still held a 15-10 lead. The game wasn’t ideal, but now it was in the hands of the defense again.
The end: Destroyed in seconds
Have you ever watched one of those videos of things – trains, buildings, bridges – being absolutely dismantled in a mere instant? That was the conclusion of this game for Bears fans.
A five-point lead, the best defense in the entire NFL needing just one more stop. But then the Eagles moved down the field, converted on third down to set up 1st-and-goal from the Bears’ two, and it all looked hopeless.
The Bears stopped Sproles on first down. And again on second. On third down, Foles’ pass to Alshon Jeffrey fell incomplete. But it wasn’t meant to be, as Foles connected with Golden Tate for the touchdown pass that gave Philly the 16-15 lead.
Still, wilder things had happened to these Bears. They forced an overtime against the Giants with a backup QB when everything looked hopeless – remember that? They actually connected on a Hail Mary, even if it came a yard short. They were certainly due for a miracle.
Tarik Cohen almost gave them one, returning the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the 42-yard-line of the Bears and looking like he was just a block or two from breaking one. A 25-yard pass to Allen Robinson II put the Bears in Eagle territory, and eight more yards had them well within field-goal range.
But you know by now what happened then. With 10 seconds to go, Parkey’s kick smacked the upright and crossbar, thudding uselessly to the ground in the endzone and turning things over to Nick Foles to kneel it down and end the game.
Watch the rest of the NFL playoffs. Cry. And enjoy the Cody Parkey memes that are surely flooding your News Feed.
Most importantly, though, come back for next year’s edition of the Bears. I already compared this Bears team to the 2015 Cubs, and I was hoping things would end happier this season. But if the similarities carry through, the Bears of next year will be even more dominant than ever – and the rest of the NFL won’t be ready.