The Bears' one-point loss to the Eagles on Sunday will be forever remembered by Cody Parkey's missed 43-yard field goal in the dying seconds, which sent the Eagles to the divisional round of the playoffs, ended the Bears' season in utter devastation, and might've ruined Parkey's career and reputation. It turns out, though, instead of blaming Parkey for missing an easy field goal, maybe we should be crediting Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester for a season-saving deflection.
Not long after the game ended -- after Parkey ran off the field to a chorus of boos from Bears fans who stuck around long enough to have a chance to show their displeasure with him -- evidence emerged that appears to show Hester tipping Parkey's kick, which sent the ball into the upright before it eventually bounced off the crossbar and onto the turf.
At full speed, it certainly looked like Parkey just pulled the kick too far to the left.
Cody Parkey's would-be game-winning FG hits the crossbar twice sending the Eagles to the Divisional Round. #PHIvsCHI #NFLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/mchSudQfLL— NFL (@NFL) January 7, 2019
But after slowing down the replay and zooming in, it actually looks like Hester's fingertips deflected the ball at the line of scrimmage.
Watch this video in slow-mo...Treyvon Hester comes up with a huge block off the tip of the fingers forcing the change of trajectory in the kick...wow. #CodyParkey#FLyEaglesFlypic.twitter.com/e3jBT3VazL— Z (@KingZouric) January 7, 2019
Here’s a frame-by-frame look that clearly shows the Parkey kick was tipped by Treyvon Hester (Hester confirmed to @Bo_Wulf he tipped it). pic.twitter.com/6dOXui7Yyp— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) January 7, 2019
After the game, the Eagles said the kick was deflected.
The Eagles are still alive thanks to the left hand of Treyvon Hester, who tipped Cody Parkey’s final kick. pic.twitter.com/NliKZhQ2eZ— Bo Wulf (@Bo_Wulf) January 7, 2019
Kick was tipped. https://t.co/sQyiQxhwqU— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) January 7, 2019
Malcolm Jenkins said he knew Parker was going to miss: “We’ve been through too much for him to make it.” #Eagles. Also said Treyvon Hester got a hand on it.— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) January 7, 2019
And Parkey -- who waited at his locker to field questions from reporters -- said he thought he hit the ball cleanly.
"I feel terrible," Parkey said, per NFL.com. "There's really no answer to it. I thought I hit a good ball."
It unlikely that Bears fans will so easily forgive Parkey even though the ball might've been tipped. There's probably a decent chance that the Bears will move on from Parkey even though he signed a four-year deal this past offseason. But it should absolutely factor into the way we talk about the events of Sunday night. It might not just have been a bad kick, though you can probably blame Parkey for failing to get enough elevation on the ball. It might've also been a great special teams play that initially went unnoticed. Blame Parkey for the low trajectory of the kick, but also credit Hester for getting a hand on the ball.
For the Eagles, it could go down in team history -- depending on how the rest of their playoff run goes -- as one of their most iconic plays ever. For the Bears, it's a cruel ending to an otherwise great season. For Parkey, it's a nightmare ending to a topsy-turvy season that has Bears fans wondering why general manager Ryan Pace ever cut Robbie Gould all those years ago.
Kicker Cody Parkey said he wants to go home see his wife and dog...knowing they don’t care what happened today #Bears— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) January 7, 2019
And here's where we point out that someone named Hester made a game-changing special teams play at Soldier Field.