Not since the missed kick-doink heard round the world has there been such emphasis on a kicker. It’s not like this was the first time a kicker has missed a field goal in a crucial game. Ask any Buffalo Bills fan. The Lombardi Trophy was in their grasp ready to be hoisted and it rested on the leg of Scott Norwood. With just eight seconds on the clock, Norwood kicks it and it has the distance, going towards the center, only to veer right missing the post altogether. Absolute heartbreak.
Kickers that were known to be clutch in games came from the likes of Billy Cundiff, Morten Andersen, Chandler Catanzaro, Gary Anderson, Adam Vinatieri, and Robbie Gould. Granted they had their share of missed kicks, costing them crucial games. But the one that hurt the Bears came from the Voldemort of Chicago, Cody Parkey. After having an incredible season, winning the NFC North that has eluded them since 2010, the Wild Card game was left on the leg of Parkey. Nothing can erase the facial expressions of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky or defensive end Akiem Hicks after that missed kick. Yes, Parkey hung his head in disbelief but “playing with the wind” on a crucial kick is bound to fail you.
The Bears won the NFC North last season with a 12-4 record. Without any picks in the first two rounds, the Bears had to take the best player available while filling team needs. With that being said, the Bears chose a running back to replace Jordan Howard, whom they traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Montgomery fits what Nagy wants to do with a three-down back. Fans did not expect the Bears to pick a wide receiver with their next pick but Ridley was still on the board, and with these two new additions they give quarterback Mitchell Trubisky more firepower.
It started as a dream. In 1892 two sports collided, soccer and rugby. On November 6, 1869, two prolific colleges, Rutgers and Princeton played what was advertised to be the first college football game. But it wasn’t until rugby player Walter Camp from Yale decided to change the rules to gradually turn the game of rugby into the game we now call American Football.
For the benefit of readers who will argue that their team should have been chosen to start the 100-year celebration, let’s put it in perspective. There is no question as to the birth of the game of football. In 1903 Pro Football was popularized in Ohio when the Massillon Tigers hired four Pittsburgh pros to play in the season-ending game against Akron. As teams started to implement rules of the game, like touchdowns and the forward pass, the game moved. In 1919, Earl (Curly) Lambeau and George Calhoun organized the Green Bay Packers. The Packers went 10-1 that season.
It’s been a pretty eventful offseason for the NFC North teams. Free agency has brought some good players into the mix, as my fellow reporter Wanda Wiedman has mentioned. New coaches and coordinators have been hired, and the teams are looking to solidify themselves with a successful draft.
The 2018 season was presumed to be a lock with the Green Bay Packers on top of the NFC North and the Chicago Bears in last place, according to most sports affiliates. But no one expected the opposite. Granted the Packers fell into third place in the division, finishing with a 6-9-1 record. However, no one expected the Bears to win the division with a 12-4 record led by a wicked defense and the Coach of the Year in Matt Nagy.
The Bears are fighting to keep that division title but their rivals are nipping at their heels, or so it seems on paper. Running backs, corners, safeties, defensive players and wide receivers are the focus of each team. Here is what the NFC North teams have done so far in free agency to fix some holes:
Heartbreaking does not describe the feeling of every Chicago Bears fan after the devastating loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field. A one point differential. One point. That has been the staple all season, getting close and squeaking out a win.
This was the wild card game against a team the Bears helped get in to the playoffs by beating the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17. But it was a game the Bears should have won and it should not have rested on the leg of a kicker who had been inconsistent all season.
I could sit here and go over the details of what happened that led to a last-second field goal. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky struggled in the first half. He did not give up the ball but his throws were not there. Workhorse running back Jordan Howard was shamefully unused as he had only 10 touches for 35 yards. RB Tarik Cohen was less, at zero rushes. ZERO!
It was 31 years ago that a strange eerie fog rolled into Soldier Field in a critical NFC divisional playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a beautiful brisk day in Chicago and clear skies. But there was a cloud of uncertainty between the two teams.
Eagles head Coach Buddy Ryan was going head-to-head against his former team, a team he had built a fierce defense with that dominated in 1985, resulting in a Super Bowl title.
In 1988, the Eagles had the worst pass defense in the league. This year the Eagles rank 30th in passing defense, while the Bears rank seventh. Back then head coach Mike Ditka said that “if we don’t beat ourselves we can win this game”. I would say that same statement would apply today for the Bears going into the playoffs this Sunday. But for the 88’ Eagles, that was the case as they could not score a touchdown due to penalties, including some that negated two touchdowns in the first half.
Christmas is literally around the corner and the Chicago Bears already stuffed their stocking with an NFC North division title.
Intertwined with that title came a win against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field (which was long overdue), the trade of linebacker Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders and five players in the Pro Bowl, Khalil Mack, safety Eddie Jackson, defensive end Akiem Hicks, cornerback Kyle Fuller, and running back Tarik Cohen.
But I’m sure Santa Claus isn’t going to stop there, right? The Bears were really good this year!