“Everybody rolling?” he said.
When the media is waiting for a kicker, it’s either good or bad news. You’re the hero or the goat.
Gould was a wanted man because he missed a potential game-tying 50-yard field goal late in Sunday’s 24-21 loss to Washington. This came a week after he missed two kicks in a 26-20 overtime loss to San Francisco, most notably a possible game-winner in regulation from 36 yards.
For the longest-tenured Bear and the franchise’s all-time leader in points, this is no way to go out. But there is little sentimentality on the football field or on Twitter.
Gould wanted another turn in the spotlight, a chance at redemption. Against the Niners, he said he rushed his kicks. This time, he just missed his one chance, kicking into a favorable wind blowing right to left.
You can say the Bears should have gotten him closer. It was raining. He’s still adjusting to a new snapper. But for a pro such as Gould, none of that mattered. He felt good, his tempo was right, and he just missed.
“I was excited,” he said. “I live for that moment. I enjoy that moment.”
After a decade of owning big moments, Gould’s latest struggles epitomize his team’s diminishing fortunes and penchant for blowing close home games.
A surprising Thanksgiving win at Lambeau Field put the Bears at 5-6 and made them an outside threat to steal a wild-card berth. The rest of the schedule was soft. At the very least, the Bears would go out honorably and entertain their fans who expected the worst. The plaudits rolled in after the win over Green Bay, with talk of both coordinators deserving head-coaching gigs.
Who is this team? As it turns out, we knew all along: They're just not very good.
After an ugly start to the season, fans were half-rooting for an all-out debacle to get a top-five draft pick. Then came the tease: winning three of four, including the Thanksgiving victory, to sniff .500.
But these Bears aren't a winning team. They don't do enough things well to win more often than not, and those weaknesses were exposed the past two weeks.
Who are the Bears? Back-to-back home losses to two teams that hadn’t won a road game all season tell you a lot about their identity right now.
“Two weeks in a row,” running back Matt Forte said. “Two teams who haven’t won an away game the entire season, and then we’re at home, where you’re supposed to be most comfortable and win in front of your fans, and we haven’t gotten it done.”
The Bears have now lost 12 of 15 home games going back to last season. Since the bye week, they have lost four home games by a combined 14 points.
“We haven’t been very good at home,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “These have been some pretty tough games to swallow at this point.”
With the average season ticket costing $108 and the cheapest one costing $85, let’s just say the Bears have been one of the worst values in football. They didn’t raise ticket prices last season, and they shouldn’t next season. Chicago will need to beat Lions on Jan. 3 to match last year’s 2-6 home record.
This year’s foibles don’t feel as visceral as last season's, as enmity built up against general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman before they were fired. There aren’t any style points for being less lousy than your worst self, but at least you can see coach John Fox building a foundation. Next year, maybe the Bears win these close games.
“It does feel a lot different,” Cutler said. “I think we have a great group of guys in there. We have a lot of no-quit attitude. I think the coaching staff and management knows how to win. You know that it’s going to get done in there. It’s just a matter of who is going to be on that team because they’re going to figure out a way.”
The Bears locker room was appropriately glum after the game. The Bears staked Washington to a 14-0 lead in the first half and then let them score to open the second half to go ahead 21-7. Chicago, which hadn’t scored a third-quarter touchdown all season, put up two in the quarter to tie the game and excite the previously silent crowd. Then they were outscored in the fourth.
Little things here and there went wrong. Right tackle Kyle Long blamed himself for missing key blocks that led to Cutler sacks. There were bad passes, missed tackles, botched assignments and penalties galore.
Good things that happened too: out-of-nowhere, timely plays, such as cornerback Kyle Fuller’s interception in the third quarter, and Cutler's connecting with Alshon Jeffery on a 50-yard catch to beat a broken zone coverage and almost give the Bears a win on the final possession.
Who are the Bears? Just another team trying to be mediocre -- just like we remembered them.
“Yeah, it’s Groundhog’s Day,” Cutler said. “I mean, we’re right there. There have been some times where we’ve made the play, and other times we’re not making the play.”
Cutler threw for 315 yards Sunday, his 16th 300-yard game as a Bear, a team record. The Bears are 6-10 in such games. (To put it in perspective, Aaron Rodgers has 43 such games and Andrew Luck, who was a rookie in 2012, has 21.) Cutler also had two touchdown passes.
Fox was asked to assess Cutler's performance, and the pithy coach captured the essence of the 2015 Bears.
"Again, I think, almost good enough," he said. "Just like all of us."