CHICAGO—Bears kicker Cody Parkey was booed off the field after his game-sealing miss in Sunday's NFC wild-card loss—a man no Chicago fans wanted to see any more.
But he was the one everyone wanted to talk to in the locker room following the Bears’ 16-15 loss to the Eagles.
A half hour earlier, Parkey had the Chicago crowd in his grasp. Fans who had previously been banging on walls suddenly left the entire stadium eerily quiet as he lined up for a 43-yard kick.
Following a timeout by Eagles coach Doug Pederson in an effort to ice the kicker, Parkey booted a ball that hit the left upright, bounced off of the crossbar and then fell to the turf. After the game, Eagles DT Treyvon Hester revealed that he tipped Parkey’s attempt. Eagles teammate Chris Long said the same on Twitter.
In the locker room, with the throng surrounding him, Parkey said his confidence was there.
“There’s really no answer to it,” he said. “I thought I hit good ball. Unfortunately I didn’t make it.”
Parkey’s ability in game-time situations has been questioned all season, as his misses mounted and his inconsistency plagued the Bears. The previous low point was the infamous game in Week 10 when the beleaguered kicker hit the upright four times in the Bears’ win over the Lions. He entered Sunday’s game with 10 missed kicks on the year, including three of his 12 attempts from the 40–49-yard range. So when the Bears offense failed to score a touchdown on its first drive of the second quarter, forcing Parkey to kick Sunday night for the first time, many fans at Soldier Field held their breath.
The kick was good, and the Bears tied the Eagles 3-3. Then Parkey added another field goal to give the Bears a 6–3 lead heading into the half. He added one more field goal to his total early in the fourth quarter.
But while many Bears players had Parkey’s back after the game, the three makes were not enough to instill complete confidence in most Chicagoans who needed one more kick to go through.
With just seconds left on the clock, Parkey missed the potential game-winner and solidified his status as the target of upset fans, despite other players trying to defend him with the potentially tipped kick.
Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara compared the moment to running on a treadmill and then suddenly, someone just pressed stop.
Parkey put the blame on himself and couldn’t believe his kick doinked off the post and the crossbar.
“You can’t make this up,” he said. “I feel terrible. I let the team down. It’s on me. I have to own it. I have to be a man. Unfortunately that’s the way it went today.”
Teammates were supportive, including Kyle Long pointing out that the Bears didn’t score a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
“I just told him, ‘Dude, you had like half of our points today.’” Long said. “I can’t even imagine what he’s going through. It’s a tough job. It’s a really tough job. I just wanted to make sure he understood that we all had his back. I think every single guy did the same that I did. I feel for Cody.”
Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was laughing and joking with reporters postgame.
“I have got a weird condition,” he said. “When I’m sad, I smile a lot to fight the pain. It’s unfortunate the season ended this way. This is what we got. This is what you’re going to deal with. If you wanted a different result, maybe make a different play. You got to swallow this. Let it hurt for a little bit. We’ll be all right.”
All-Pro Khalil Mack—who’s been slow to take credit for his effect on the team this year, sharing the credit with his teammates—took his time talking to media. He sat in his locker, sitting up and walking away a few times before putting on his shoes and fastening a gold chain around his neck.
Mack backed Parkey too, and wanted to make sure he wasn’t taking it too hard.
He said he was praying as Parkey went to kick. "Praying real hard,” he said. “Things happen for a reason. That was tough. Just got to learn from this and keep it pushing.”
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