MINNEAPOLIS – Robbie Gould is one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. For his career he has converted nearly 73 percent of his field goal attempts from 40-49 yards.
But curiously perhaps, that zone is also the one in which he is least accurate, compared to nearly 79 percent from 50 yards or longer, his next-worst.
So it was on Sunday, when Gould in overtime pushed a 47-yard try wide right, a kick that would have won a game that would end instead 23-20 in favor of the Minnesota Vikings, who triumphed when Blair Walsh converted from 34 yards with 1:34 remaining in the overtime period.
“I didn’t come through for my teammates in the end,” said Gould, who celebrated the birth of a baby son this weekend. “I had two chances today to get it done and I didn’t. It’s very unlike me, but there’s no excuses for it. I didn’t have it, I wasn’t nervous, I just missed.”
Earlier Gould was short on an attempt from 66 yards at the end of regulation, tried when the offense got all of two yards after a 57-yard Devin Hester kickoff return following Minnesota’s tying field goal.
On the 47-yard miss, the Bears had advanced from their 47 to the Minnesota 29 when, on second-and-7, coach Marc Trestman chose to try the field goal then rather than advance closer.
Here was Trestman’s reasoning, which reflected some lack of confidence in his offense:
“We were definitely in range and I didn’t want to, at that point, risk a possible penalty that would set us back, or a fumble or something unique,” Trestman said.
“There’s no guarantee that we would get any yards on second down or third down.”
Teammates were tolerating no questions either of Gould or the decision to try the kick when the Bears did. Tackle Jermon Bushrod recalled from his time with the New Orleans Saints, field goals kicked on first, second and third downs.
And Gould’s kick did not drift right because of the distance; it was wide from when it left Gould’s foot.
“You can speculate after that fact that it would have made a difference,” said Matt Forte. “But Robbie is one of the best kickers in the league.”
Said Gould: “I hate losing. There’s nothing good about it. That game could have cost us the playoffs and it’s on my shoulders.
“You know what? I’m going to bear that and go back to work on Monday. It’s tough. I pride myself on coming through in those situations. I definitely pride myself in helping my teammates out and that’s why they send me out there to kick those kicks. Today, I just didn’t get it done.
“We get called out there to kick it, I’ve got to go out there and make it. I don’t even know what down it was. It’s a 47, 48-yarder, I’ve got to make it. It’s in my range. I had a chance to take over the No. 1 spot, a kicker like that has to come through for his teammates in the end, especially when you’re in a playoff hunt, and I didn’t do that today, and it’s on my shoulders. You want to put the blame somewhere, it falls right on me.”