Bernstein: Bears Ending A Sad All-Timer

In a nightmare, Cody Parkey's winning field-goal attempt clanged off the upright.

Dan Bernstein
January 06, 2019 - 7:42 pm
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(670 The Score) Had a screenwriter pitched this story to a producer, the idea would've been laughed out of the room, with the script thrown fluttering at the poor soul's head before the door slammed behind him. It's too cute, too on the nose, too completely preposterous.

​That couldn't have happened. That simply couldn't have happened, no matter the number of times we've seen and heard it the whole way through -- the nervous hush, the thump, the all-too-familiar hollow clang of leather on metal and the anguished groan we shared. Cody Parkey hit the post again.

But it happened, and the Bears were ousted in a 16-15 loss to the Eagles in the wild-card round at Soldier Field on Sunday evening. The loss that was capped by Parkey hitting the left upright and the crossbar from 43 yards out in the waning seconds was as stomach-turning an ending as we can remember for a Chicago pro sports team. In terms of sheer literary power, it's asking for a spot there alongside October 2003 at Wrigley Field, well beyond the garden-variety conclusions wrought by the likes of Steve Garvey, Tito Landrum, Jay Schroeder, Jerry Rice, Steve Smith, B.J. Raji, LeBron James or Hue Hollins. I wouldn't have believed you if you told me that my postgame thoughts would involve a 60-foot slap shot by Jacques Lemaire that eluded Tony Esposito in 1971, but alas.

Mitchell Trubisky impresses in first playoff start, inspires confidence in his second season

Sometimes there's no playoff run, nothing guaranteed no matter how many regular-season wins, individual accolades or confidence-building point spreads. Sometimes it's just over after all of it, a bitter pill earned by not being good enough that day.

A 12-4 record and a slew of All-Pros and Pro Bowlers didn't end up meaning much for the Bears, not after the defending champion Eagles came in and snuffed out all the hope and fun and instead ignited an explosion of blame and recrimination. This will get ugly before the wounds heal.

Missing Eddie Jackson and Trey Burton didn't matter as much as missed tackles when it mattered most, when Nick Foles found the small windows and the big receivers and nothing less than the NFL's best defense was unable get them on the ground in time. And the Bears' pass rush just couldn't influence the outcome enough, even on the raucous Chicago lakeshore. In an irony, they were at Soldier Field but couldn't get home.

We won't know how injured Mitchell Trubisky was when he came up limping after a scramble in the first quarter, how any athletic limitations kept him from playing at the peak of his abilities. He still ended up close to brilliant when it looked like it mattered, until it just didn't.

That Parkey had nailed his three earlier field goals only made it worse, too, as we considered the possibility that some kind of redemption narrative was building. He even drilled the first attempt in the waning seconds that was nullified by a prescient Doug Pedersen timeout, one that will be remembered as a particularly successful icing.

The 2018 Bears are indeed cold and done, their season ending in a way that will echo for a very long time.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​