It never should have come down to it, we all know that. Yet a potentially game-winning, 36-yard field goal attempt that was basically not much longer than today's extra point sticks out like a sore thumb. While you certainly can't pin the entire blame on Bears kicker Robbie Gould for losing to San Francisco—the Bears offense was pathetic—you certainly can question whether these last two misses are just a slump or the beginning of a decline for a great kicker.
Look, it hurts me to write this but a kicker simply can't miss that field goal with the game on the line. It just cannot happen. Yet it did. Furthermore, he didn't just miss it, he missed it badly.
Yet it hurts me because Robbie is a great kid, on and off the field. When I was writing for Bleacher Report, he was the first player to openly talk to me and I will always appreciate that. And he's been a helluva fine kicker. But as John Fox said, the NFL is a "what have you done for me lately league".
Gould has slumped earlier this season too. There was a stretch where he missed three in a row. And now he's missed consecutive chances. The fact that one of them was the potential game winner in an eventual 26-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday magnifies the miss, of course.
Meanwhile, his leg strength isn't what it used to be. His kickoffs aren't going out of the end zone like last year.
But despite that, Gould hasn't had a terrible season. For the year, he has made 26/31 field goals, which is 83%. That is just under his career average. Gould is the NFL's 9th most accurate kicker in league history, at slightly under 85.4%.
Gould is the NFL's third highest paid kicker. So, despite his career success, if he starts to show a decline, the Bears probably won't hesitate to cut ties with him over the next season or two. That's life in professional sports. Nothing lasts forever.
He said all the right things after the game, owning his mistake. "This one falls on me and on my shoulders,'' Gould said in the locker room. "I feel bad for my teammates because I didn't do the job I was supposed to.''
Who knows, maybe he will kick the game winning FG against Washington and all will be right in the world again. After all, no one is infallible and he's allowed to make mistakes like everyone else.
Hey, as Da Coach said about Gould's miss: "Even Babe Ruth struck out." Ironically, it was Mike Ditka's kicker, Kevin Butler, whose all-time points record Gould broke earlier this season.