Like a lot of NFL fans, I sat down to watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Chicago Bears. (Full disclosure: I did so from Auckland New Zealand, where it was actually Monday morning) I was curious if the Eagles’ late-season magic would wilt beneath the Bears’ new Monsters of the Midway.
So, like a lot of NFL fans, I was fully invested when the Bears kicker, Cody Parkey, stepped out onto the field with 10 seconds left in the game. The Bears, down 16-15, were one seemingly routine 43-yard Parkey kick away from their first playoff win since 2011. I was surrounded by a group of Bears fans in a small restaurant and we watched as the ball was snapped, and Parkey’s kick sailed through the uprights—only to be declared void. The Eagles’ head coach, Doug Pederson, had called a timeout, milliseconds before the play. Parkey would have to kick it again.
For most people, this might seem like no big deal. There are lots of folks who don’t believe icing a kicker (which is what you call a timeout before a big kick) is a smart tactical strategy.
But for Cody Parkey, it was a HUGE deal.
You see, Parkey not only had the game on the line, he was carrying baggage from the season. Five times this year, Parkey doinked a kick off the goalposts—including four in one game. He’d missed 10 kicks (field goals and extra points) on the year. And the NBC broadcast crew came back to those facts over and over again during the timeout.
My guess is those misses were running through his head, too. I asked the guy at the next table, replete in his vintage Mike Singletary jersey, how he thought Parkey would handle the extra pressure. He looked down and said he couldn’t stand to watch.
Moments later, we had our answer. The timeout ended, the ball was snapped, and millions of people watched in stunned amazement as Parkey’s kick doinked off the left upright, doinked off the crossbar, and then fell, helpless, into the end zone. No good.
The Eagles took possession and quickly knelt, running out the clock and preserving their unreal run under Nick Foles. Cameras captured stunned Bears players on the sideline in between replays of Parkey’s miss.