LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Second-guessed repeatedly about electing to have Robbie Gould attempt a 47-yard field goal on second down, rather than use another snap to try to make the attempt easier, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman accepted accountability on Monday, but defended his decision.
“That’s the decision I made in the best interest of the team,” Trestman said. “It didn’t work out. I recognize that and I accept accountability for that.”
During overtime of Sunday’s 23-20 loss at Minnesota, Trestman called five consecutive run plays to Matt Forte, who gained 24 yards to set the Bears up with second down at the Vikings 32 with 4:12 left to play, before calling a timeout. After calling a second timeout, Trestman made the decision to have Gould go for the 47-yard field goal attempt, which sailed wide right.
"It’s a tough situation. That’s what kickers are paid to do: to make kicks," long snapper Patrick Mannelly said. "They’re not going to make them all. Unfortunately, he didn’t make that one. But we know the next one he’s going to make.”
The Vikings moved the ball 47 yards on their ensuing possession to win on Blair Walsh's 34-yard field goal, as the Bears fell to 6-6.
The argument could be made that Trestman should have run at least one more play to try to shorten the distance of Gould's potential game-winning field goal attempt. At the same time, the argument could be made that 47 yards was well within Gould’s range.
After all, he’s connected on five field goals throughout his career from distances of 55 yards or more, including 12 consecutive field goals from 50 yards or more headed into Sunday’s game. Gould had nailed all five of his field goals this season from distances between 40 and 49 yards going into the matchup with the Vikings, and over the last two seasons he’s been 12 of 14 from that distance.
Overall, however, Gould is least accurate throughout his career from the 40-to-49-yard range (72.7 percent). Going into Sunday, Gould had made 100 percent over nine years from 20 to 29 yards out, 90.5 percent from 30 to 39 yards, and 78.9 percent from distances of 50 yards or more.
“It’s very simple. Once we got inside the 30-yard line, we were going to kick it,” Trestman said. “We were well within Robbie’s range. We ran the ball on first down and got three [yards]. We were sitting there on second-and seven, and the ball is in the middle of the field. With all the things that had happened throughout the game, including Minnesota’s failure to make a field goal when they went back with penalties, we were in a great position right there to kick it and finish the game.”
Prior to Gould’s miss, Walsh connected on a 39-yard field goal for what should have been the game winner. But the field goal was nullified when officials called Rhett Ellison for a 15-yard facemask penalty. The flag pushed back the Vikings to the Chicago 39, and Walsh’s next try from 57 yards out was wide left.
That sequence played a role in Trestman’s thinking regarding his decision to try a field goal on second down. Trestman also said “because the ball was [spotted] in the middle of the field was really the biggest reason.”
“The decision is not anything I regret,” Trestman said. “I regret that I have to take accountability that it didn’t. ...I don’t regret that I have to take accountability for it, but I do. I made the decision to do it on second down and 7, and we didn’t get it done.”
Quarterback Jay Cutler defended Trestman’s decision.
“I think everyone in this little, cubicle room that we’re in thought that he was going to make the kick,” Cutler said on ESPN 1000’s “The Jay Cutler Show."
"He’s made them time after time after time. I’m not saying it’s Robbie’s fault that we lost, because that’s far from the truth. We felt good about the situation we were in to kick it right there. We would have run the ball again and got 2-3 more yards, so it still would have been a 40-something kick. I stand by the call, I liked the call and everyone on the sideline felt good about it.”
Trestman admitted he second guesses himself “a lot afterwards because I want to be perfect for the guys, and when things don’t work, I hold myself accountable for it because I’m making every decision in the best [interest of the team].” But this wasn’t a case in which Trestman regretted the decision he made a day later.
“We decided that we were in range, and were going to make that kick,” Trestman said. “Because it didn’t work, we’re all asking those questions. I totally understand and I accept that. But as I look back on it, where the ball was, watching Robbie kick all the weeks I’ve watched him, there was no question in my mind that we were going to finish the game right there.”