Hours after the birth of his son, a weary Gould kept the Chicago Bears from winning in overtime by pulling his 47-yard try slightly to the right on the most bittersweet of Sundays for one of the NFL's most accurate kickers.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 211 yards and Blair Walsh kicked a 34-yard field goal in the extra period to lift the Minnesota Vikings to a wild 23-20 victory over the Bears.
"I'm happy for my wife and my little boy. Sorry I couldn't do it for my teammates like I did for my wife this morning," said Gould, who arrived in Minnesota about six hours before the game after welcoming his first child into the world.
Gould's 66-yard field goal fell a few yards short as regulation ended. He entered the game with the second-best career percentage in league history among those with 100 or more field goals made.
"I make that kick a lot. I've just got to step up and make it. I just didn't do it," Gould said. "That game could've cost us the playoffs, and that's on my shoulders."
Bears coach Marc Trestman made a point of absolving Gould of the blame.
"At the end of the day, we didn't get it done. The accountability starts with me," Trestman said, adding: "Robbie didn't lose the game for us. There's a lot of different ways. No one play loses the game."
Alshon Jeffery had 12 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns and Matt Forte rushed 23 times for 120 yards for the Bears (6-6), who led 20-10 until midway through the fourth quarter. They converted only two of 11 third downs and punted seven times, rendering Josh McCown's season-high 355 yards passing less remarkable.
"My emotions aren't really just stuck on this game. It's this season," said wide receiver Brandon Marshall. "Anything still can happen. You never know. We've seen some crazy things in the past. But it (stinks). We want to get to the playoffs. We want to win. A lot of people in this organization deserve it. A lot of people in this city deserve it. And for us not to get it done today put us behind the 8-ball a little more."
The Bears trail Detroit by one game in the NFC North with four games to go, but after falling to 2-3 in the division the Bears can't win the tiebreaker with the Lions.
"We need some help from some other teams to put us back in position. I don't know how it's going to work out, but we just have to keep our eye on the prize," said left tackle Jermon Bushrod in a somber locker room.
Julius Peppers had 2½ sacks, half of his team's total, but the defense missing five injured starters also faltered in critical situations.
Matt Cassel took over at quarterback late in the second quarter after Christian Ponder suffered a concussion, and Cassel finished 20 for 33 for 243 yards and a touchdown pass to Greg Jennings with 7:41 remaining in regulation to pull with the Vikings (3-8-1) within three points.
Khaseem Greene's interception at the goal line and 49-yard return gave the Bears the ball at midfield with 4:38 left. Forte was stopped on second-and-1 and third-and-1. Trestman refused to second-guess the play calls.
"I understood kind of their thinking there, too. Obviously as a competitor, you're ready to throw the ball or do whatever," McCown said. "But I have full trust in Marc."
Walsh tied the game with 24 seconds left on a 30-yard kick.
Then in overtime, the Bears caught a break. Walsh made a 39-yard field goal that would've ended the game, but Rhett Ellison was flagged for a face-mask penalty while trying to block Devin Hester. Peterson was thrown for a 3-yard loss and Walsh's 57-yard try hit the bottom of the left upright.
Forte ran five times for 24 yards to give the Bears the ball at the 29. On second-and-7, with 4:12 remaining, Trestman sent Gould out to try to win the game.
"I don't care if it was first down. I believe in Robbie Gould. That's a chip shot for him. So if it was first down, I'd put all my money on him," Marshall said.
Trestman said he was confident in the decision, too.
"I just felt we were in range, and let's get it done. I've seen it happen many times before," he said.
With their second straight tie looming, the Vikings went 47 yards the other way in seven plays. Walsh nailed this one, capping the unlikely comeback.
Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.