Rozner: A clank ends a clunker for Bears
Well, of course Cody Parkey hit the upright to finish the Bears' season.
Could it have ended any other way?
Somewhere, perhaps even here in Chicago, Robbie Gould had to be laughing at Bears GM Ryan Pace, who seems to always have the answer -- except when he doesn't.
Parkey concluded his nightmarish run by hitting his first 3 field goals Sunday, or 4 if you want to count the one he hit just after Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson called his final timeout in hopes of icing the Bears' kicker.
It worked. The next one from 43 hit the left upright and bounced off the crossbar, forward and back into the field of play. The Bears were done and the defending champion Eagles were moving on with a 16-15 victory at Soldier Field.
"I can sleep at night knowing I did everything I could to make that kick," Parkey said. "I know it was a great ball."
Not great enough, but hardly the only reason the Bears are done, having given away a great opportunity to win the Super Bowl.
"I would never wish to be a kicker," said veteran guard Kyle Long. "I missed a bunch of blocks today and I'm sure a lot of them were unnoticed.
"When you're in a position like that, I can't even imagine how tough that is."
Tackle Bobbie Massie picked up his kicker and gave Parkey a big hug after the devastating miss, and to a man the Bears refused to put this defeat on Parkey, mentioning the many plays they didn't make that they had made all season.
"One person didn't lose this game. We lost this game together," said Prince Amukamara. "I figured they would ice him. The first one went through. It looked easy. I was excited. The last one looked like it was going through.
"It's tough for all of us. I'm sure it's tough for him, but he's a fighter. He'll get through this, as will we all."
After all the postgame parties in 2018, the new year began with a very quiet clubhouse.
"It was silent when we walked in the locker room," Amukamara said. "To be honest, it just feels surreal right now, just the way it ended.
"Now I'm feeling like it was too good to be true, the way our season went. That last drive, I just knew we were gonna win the game."
After the vaunted Bears defense allowed the Eagles to march 58 yards in 8 plays, they buckled down and stopped Philadelphia 3 straight times from the 2-yard line, including 2 spectacular tackles by Khalil Mack.
But Nick Foles hit Golden Tate on a short throw for the touchdown on fourth down and the visitors were up by a point.
"They got the play that they needed," said Akiem Hicks. "That's just what we have to deal with. We didn't make enough plays today."
They stopped the 2-point conversion by an inch and the Bears still had a chance to win the game with 56 seconds remaining.
After a nice return by Tarik Cohen and Mitch Trubisky hitting Allen Robinson twice, the Bears were in field goal range.
Then came the double-doink.
"We played a great game. We fought to the end. It came out on their side," Hicks said. "We don't like the outcome.
"We have one choice. Either sit here and mope about it or start making plans for your future, start making plans for your next season, start getting ready to put in that work."
There were many plays that could have changed the game and many players who could have made a difference, not the least of which was Trubisky, who could have easily thrown 4 picks in the first half.
He was better in the second half, especially on a pair of fourth-quarter drives, but not good enough for four quarters to win a postseason game.
"That's the great thing about football. The game is a roller coaster," Amukamara said. "The season is a roller coaster. Throughout this game the momentum changed so many times. There were a lot of big plays.
"Just the way our season was going, it seemed like it was meant for us. It obviously wasn't."
Bears management will undoubtedly talk about how bright the future is, but the NFL offers no promises of a return to this position, and Bears players understood Sunday what they had let get away from them.
"We were in a great position. Winning 12 games is hard in this league," Hicks said. "It's unfortunate that the season ended this way. This is what we got and this is what we have to deal with.
"If you wanted a different result, maybe make a different play. Gotta swallow this now and let it hurt for a little bit."
Hicks will not be alone in his pain, as fans were dreaming big as they looked around the postseason and saw no team to truly fear.
Now, they will have to wait at least 12 months for another chance because in the end, to borrow from Livia Soprano, it was all a big nothing.