CHICAGO – Surely, it couldn’t happen again.
Not after all the attention, the Soldier Field practices, and the sheer odds of doing so being very much against him. What are the odds of hitting a goal post on a kick for a sixth time in a season in the final seconds of a team’s first playoff game in eight years?
Better than Cody Parkey or over 60,000 stunned Bears’ fans would have liked to believe on Sunday.
The snap was true, the hold by Pat O’Donnell was good, and the kicker’s approach appeared solid. Yet the kick, which may or may not have been tipped by the Eagles’ Treyvon Hester at the line of scrimmage, starting fluttering to the left. It kept fading, traveling well over 43 yards with an aim that wasn’t so true.
Under three seconds after it left Parkey’s foot, there was that sound again. A mixture of a thud and a clang from the metal upright which the football struck with force, with a smaller noise following when the ball smacked off the crossbar.
Did it go through the uprights, as sometimes it does when hitting the uprights? Nope, not for a tortured Parkey, who missed a sixth kick this season after smacking part of the goal post.
So went three points, and so went a season, as the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles squeaked out a 16-15 victory.
“You can’t make this up. I feel terrible. I let the team down. It’s on me,” said Parkey. “I have to own it. I have to be a man. Unfortunately, that’s the way it went today.”
Well, credit to Parkey, it only went that way on the last kick. He’d knocked down his first three attempts on the day from 36, 29, and then 34 yards out. Naturally, it’s the last one that meant the most, since it came at the critical moment of the season, which came after the Bears lost the lead in the final minute on a Nick Foles’ touchdown pass to Golden Tate on fourth down.
With the aid of a 35-yard kick return by Tarik Cohen and 33-yards by the Mitchell Trubisky-led offense, Parkey got his shot to play the hero with ten seconds left.
“Just kicking in the net. When they send me out for a field goal, I go out and try and make it,” said Parkey of his mentality during the final drive.
Head coach Matt Nagy confidently sent him out to try the field goal, and he made the first attempt at it just after Eagles coach Doug Pederson called timeout in an effort to ice him. Indeed it worked, as Parkey smacked the upright with his second kick, letting the Eagles escape with a one-point win.
“Confidence was going. There’s really no answer to it. I thought I hit a good ball. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it,” said Parkey of the attempt. “I feel terrible. One hundred percent take that loss on me. It is what it is. Sun is going to shine tomorrow. Life’s going to go on.
“Unfortunately, it’s going to sting for a while.”
So will this season, one which came after Parkey signed a four-year, $15 million deal with the team to solidify a kicker position in flux since the release of Robbie Gould before the 2016 season. Nine million of that deal was guaranteed, so when Parkey had his four miss game against the Lions in Week 10 – with two field goals and two extra points hitting the upright.
It was part of a regular season where he made 76.7 percent of his kicks – the lowest of his career during a full-time season.
“It’s a difficult deal. I don’t think you can make right that story, just with how things went this year and how he rebounded, and then for that to happen, it’s tough,” said Nagy of Parkey. “It’s hard for all the players. It’s hard for him. It’s hard for everybody. It stinks. It’s not easy.”
This offseason won’t be either, as the Bears consider their options with Parkey after a disappointing first year with the franchise. When asked after the game if he thought his future with the team was in doubt, Parkey said it wasn’t his decision to make.
At least his teammates publicly are willing to stand with him, just as the did after the Lions’ game, and are doing so again at the end of the season.
“That’s our guy. That’s our guy. I’m going to ride with my guy,” said defensive end Akiem Hicks of Parkey. “If you have that “C” on your helmet, I’m going to ride with you to the end. I don’t care what happens on the field. We are together.”
If only Cody could have found a way to miss the upright this time, the group could have been together a little longer this January.