Bears place kicker Robbie Gould's dream is to kick winning field goals in close games. His nightmare is to miss the final kick, then watch from the sidelines while his team goes down in defeat. To have his worst-case scenario play out in front of Soldier Field fans two weeks in a row made today's 24-21 loss to the Redskins even more discouraging for the veteran kicker.
"Last week I felt that I rushed the kick," Gould said after the game. "That's something I worked on all week to correct. This week I didn't feel that pressure. When the ball left my foot I was certain that it was going in."
Against the 49ers last week, Gould missed two field goals wide left, resulting in an overtime loss. This week, he went wide right from 50 yards with 1:40 on the clock, which led to the three-point loss to Washington. The Bears are now just 1-6 at home. Gould didn't blame the rainy weather that plagued Soldier Field today, insisting that the wind was calm and that "conditions were relatively good." Even an unseasonably warm December day didn't seem to bother Gould.
"Compared to what we usually get this time of year in Chicago, today was fine," Gould said. "Wind was very slight and only right to left. For some reason I just pushed it right. It just kept going that way. I don't know what else to tell you."
Gould cited a productive week of practice leading up to today's game and a calm mindset heading into the final kick.
"I put the previous weeks game behind me," he said. "It wasn't difficult to move on mentally because that is part of the job. It's what we do. In fact, when the moment came today, I was very excited to go out there. Game-winning field goals are what kickers live for, that situation can be very exciting."
Gould said he felt frustrated and saddened by letting the team down.
"The ball was right where I wanted it to be, in the middle of the field. We had a bunch of tough guys on our side out there competing and doing a great job all game. It comes down to one play and I knew that my teammates were relying on me. The wind was at my back and it was in perfect range. I felt so good I thought I could have kicked a 60 yarder. They put it in my range, I've got to make it."
With today's three-point loss, each of Chicago's last four losses have come by six points or fewer.
"It's frustrating to come so close then not get it done," said Gould. "A loss is a loss no matter how big or little the margin might be. But for me, as a kicker, those close losses sting much, much more. I think about it a lot. What could I have done better to get this win?"
With the Seahawks' win today and Chicago's loss,the Bears' playoff chances are now in the rearview mirror. Does that make the experience of the missed field gals any worse?
"You mean is this my worst time as a pro?" Gould asked. "No not at all. The extra points were OK. But that said, I would take back what happened if I could, but that's not going to happen. All that is left is to go forward and finish the season strong."