MINNEAPOLIS -- Robbie Gould's rare missed field goal in overtime and Marc Trestman's decision to kick it -- even though it was only second down -- make them the two most obvious scapegoats in the Bears' gut-wrenching 23-20 overtime loss to the Vikings.
But this was a game in which the Bears squandered numerous opportunities in all three phases and didn't deserve to defeat a team that came in with 2 wins.
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At 6-6, the Bears' playoff chances are a long shot at best. They're not mathematically eliminated, but common sense and a review of their third loss in four games paints a picture of a pretender, not a contender.
"We have to keep a mindset that we're still in it, and we have to fight," guard Matt Slauson said. "But now we need help."
Gould was given an unrealistic chance to win the game at the end of regulation with a 66-yard field-goal attempt. The missed 47-yarder, which faded right at the end, ended an emotionally taxing 24 hours for Gould, who arrived late after witnessing the birth of his son early Sunday morning.
Despite dealing with far more important and life-changing events, Gould took full blame for the loss.
"I didn't come through for my teammates in the end," he said. "I had two chances today to get it done. It's very unlike me, but there are no excuses for it. I just didn't do it. I didn't have it. I missed it. I wasn't nervous, I just missed."
Gould, who had a string of 34 straight indoor kicks snapped when the 66-yarder came up short, entered the game as the second-most-accurate kicker in NFL history (86.3 percent). He declined to use a whirlwind of activity as an excuse.
"There's no excuse at all," he said. "My wife did awesome. There were a lot of lessons in one day. It was one of the greatest days of my life, and I'm happy for my wife and my little boy. Sorry I couldn't do it for my teammates like I did for my wife. It's hard to swallow. I love my teammates, just like I love my wife and my baby, and I just didn't do it."
Maybe more inexplicable than Gould not hitting what would have been his 12th game-winning kick, was Trestman's decision not to try to get closer after consecutive Matt Forte runs of 4, 9, 1 and 3 yards left the Bears at the Vikings' 29 facing second-and-7.
On the Vikings' previous possession, Blair Walsh booted what appeared to be a game-winning 39-yard field goal, as fireworks exploded and fans rejoiced. But Rhett Ellison was flagged 15 yards for a facemask penalty and two plays later, Walsh was wide left from 57.
Apparently, that affected Trestman's thinking.
"We were definitely in range," said Trestman, aware that Gould came into the game having hit 12 straight from 50 yards or longer. "I didn't want to, at that point in time, risk a possible penalty that would set us back, something similar to what happened on the other side, or a fumble, or something unique. I felt we could get the game over at that time. Certainly we were running the ball really well."
That would be an understatement. Forte rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries (5.2 average) and as a team the Bears had 135 yards on the ground on 25 tries (5.4 average).
But the Bears, now essentially two games behind the 7-5 Lions, who hold the tie-breaker edge with a sweep of their season series, had ample opportunities to lock down a victory in a game they led 20-10 after three quarters.
In the first minute of the fourth quarter, the Bears had a fourth-and-4 at the Vikings' 38 and decided not to go for the first down or attempt a 56-yard field goal. Adam Podlesh's punt pinned the Vikings at their 11, but they plowed through the Bears' defense for an 89-yard TD drive to pull within 20-17 with 7:41 left in regulation. The Vikings' first TD drive was 90 yards, their longest of the season.
With a chance to run down the clock after the Vikings' second TD, the Bears immediately gave them the ball back when Josh McCown's ill-advised shovel pass deflected off a Vikings defender and was caught by Bears guard Kyle Long, who fumbled when tackled at the Chicago 18. Fellow rookie Khaseem Greene got Long off the hook when he intercepted a pass that bounced off Ellison at the goalline. Greene's 49-yard return gave the Bears the ball at midfield with 4:38 left and another chance to ice it. After Forte picked up 9 yards on first down, he was stuffed for no gain on back-to-back plays, forcing a punt.
Although the Vikings were backed up to their 9, they drove 79 yards, including a fourth-and-11 conversion from their own 8-yard line, to tie it on Walsh's 30-yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.
"Completing the ball on fourth down, backed up like that, was certainly disappointing," Trestman said. "You can break this down offensively, defensively and special teams. We win as a team and we lose as a team, and that was clear (Sunday), and that starts with me."
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