Chicago Bears Bear Burden of Missed Opportunities

Andy Santana, Staff Writer

Going into the 2018-19 NFL season, the Chicago Bears were project to finish dead last in the NFC North. With teams like the Green Bay Packers, who have Aaron Rodgers, the Minnesota Vikings with their top 10 defense, and the always tough Detroit Lions, the future didn’t look bright for the Chicago Bears. The rest of the league didn’t consider the Chicago Bears as a serious team, let alone a playoff contender. NFL and ESPN analysts all seemed to have Green Bay or Minnesota winning the NFC North division, with the Chicago Bears falling to the very bottom. Going into the season the Bears had a couple of promising young players in Tarik Cohen (RB), Eddie Jackson (FS) and Mitchell Trubisky (QB). In the off-season they got some playmakers like Allen Robinson (WR) and Taylor Gabriel (WR) but undoubtedly the biggest pick up for the bears was Khalil Mack (OLB), who was signed to a 6-year/$141-million-dollar contract (becoming the highest paid defensive player in the league). With all this added talent, the Bears still had a tough season opener against the Green Bay Packers.

To give some context, going into this game the Bears had only won two out of the last ten games against the Green Bay Packers, so a win would be a huge confidence booster. Early into the game the bears managed to stop Aaron Rogers and the Packers offense and scored on their opening possession. By halftime the Bears led 10-0. Things were looking good for the Bears. At the end of third quarter the score was 20-3 but the Packers started fighting back. In the fourth quarter the Packers scored two touchdowns and the Bears answers with a field goal which made the score 23-17. The Packers had the ball with two minutes left; all they needed was touchdown to win the game. During that drive there was a dropped interception that would have ended the game. Unfortunately, that missed play cost the Bears the game, losing 23 to 24.

All the skeptics and analysts started to appear right about the Bears and their future but they fought back; winning their next three games. In their fourth game they lost to the Miami Dolphins in overtime with Cody Parkey (K) missing the game winning field goal. They also lost to the Patriots after a hail Mary attempt that fell a couple of yards short of the end zone with no time remaining. At this point the Bears were 3-3 with all their losses being decided by a single play (interception, missed field goal, and a couple of yards) and the league started to notice. After their loss to New England, the Bears found themselves in the number 11 spot in the NFL Power Rankings out of 32 teams.

With all this praise the Chicago Bears still had many doubters to prove wrong, so after their week 7 loss they took off. They went on a 5 game winning streak and even found a way to win a game after Cody Parkey (K) missed two extra points and two field goal attempts in the same game against the Lions. In week 13 they dropped a game to the New York Giants in overtime. In the following week they had the toughest test of the season. They were up against the best team in the NFL (at the time) the Los Angeles Rams. They ended up pulling one of the biggest upsets of the season and beating the LA Rams at Soldier Field. The Chicago Bears won out the remainder on the season, finishing with a record of 12-4 and clinching a playoff spot as the number 3 seed in the NFC.

Going into the playoffs they had the returning Super Bowl champs (the Philadelphia Eagles) in the wildcard game. The game was kept relatively close which resulted in the final play being the deciding factor. Cody Parkey (K) had to kick a 43-yard field goal to win the game. All eyes were on him; with a win, the Bears would go play the LA Rams in the divisional round. The whole crowd held their breath as Cody Parkey prepared to kick. The center snapped the ball, the place holder set it and Cody Parkey kicked. The longer the ball was in the air the more it started to curl to the left, until it finally hit the left upright and bounced off. The kick was no good and he Chicago Bears’ magical season came to a tragic end.