Conditions were far from ideal at Soldier Field, with the temperature hovering around freezing and the wind whipping off of Lake Michigan as it often does in January. Gould is headed to the Pro Bowl next month and was recently named first-team All-Pro, so despite the less-than-perfect situation, a 49-yarder shouldn't have been unthinkable. Although, 49 yards was indeed his career-best conversion two years into his NFL career.
But he never got the chance to make that field goal because head coach Lovie Smith called for a direct snap to Gould and a pooch punt to try and pin Seattle deep in their own territory.
His unpopular decision ended up being a moot point because a 5-yard false start penalty on the Bears blew the play dead anyway. That backed them up to what would have been a 54-yard try, and Smith didn't hesitate with his call to simply punt the ball away with Brad Maynard. He was playing the percentages, but with time running out in the final period of a win-or-go-home playoff game, the majority of the so-called experts in the press box were questioning such conservatism.
Fortunately for Bears fans, Smith's patience ended up being the right move.
The Monsters of the Midway gave Gould another chance with 4:24 left in regulation, this time from 41 yards out. He made his three-pointer to tie the score 24-24, but even at what is normally routine distance, the kick only had a yard or two to spare. If it had been from 49 again, Gould would have come up woefully short.
In the ensuing overtime period, the Seahawks came up empty on their first drive and made a critical error when Ryan Plackemeier flinched in the wake of a fierce rush by Israel Idonije and managed only an 18-yard punt. Bears quarterback Rex Grossman made the most of his good field position, thanks in large part to a critical 30-yard completion down the seam to slot man Rashied Davis on 3rd-and-10. A few plays later, it was time for Gould to work his magic.
The distance? 49 yards. Again.
The snap from Patrick Mannelly was a little high, but Maynard's hold was perfect. So was Gould's kick. Pandemonium followed shortly thereafter. The Bears are going to the NFC Championship Game. And the their Pro Bowl kicker is the hero.
Gould is the Bear Report Stud of the Week.