Marc Trestman defends decision to kick field goal on second down
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter December 1, 2013 1:32PM
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Updated: December 2, 2013 12:29PM
MINNEAPOLIS — Fireworks popped from two wires traversing above the goal posts Sunday.
The Bears had lost, and then they hadn’t, but the smoke lingered, a reminder of how the Vikings’ overtime field goal was wiped out by a penalty.
It took two more misses — one by the Vikings’ Blair Walsh and a season-defining 47-yard push by the Bears’ Robbie Gould — before the fireworks returned again.
Walsh’s 34-yarder sealed the Bears’ 23-20 overtime loss, and likely their playoff fate.
Amid the explosions, there was an implosion.
“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot, basically,” running back Matt Forte said.
On second down, Gould’s right foot pushed a potential game-winner right with 4:12 left in overtime.
After the game, Bears coach Marc Trestman defended his decision to try the field goal on second down, and he reiterated that Monday morning to WBBM-AM radio:
“Could we have done something different? I felt at the time it was in the best interests of the team considering the circumstances, being on the road and the noise and being in Robbie’s range.”
“It’s on my shoulders,” Gould said.
Trestman said, “Robbie didn’t lose the game. There’s a lot of different ways to lose.’’
The Vikings thought they won earlier, but Walsh’s 39-yarder was offset by Rhett Ellison’s 15-yard facemask penalty. He missed a 57-yarder two plays later, giving the Bears life.
“We’re thinking the game’s over,” Bears linebacker James Anderson said. “Wait a minute? A flag?”
Adrian Peterson ran 35 times for 211 yards to knock the 6-6 Bears one game behind the Lions, who own the tiebreaker with four to play.
“Now we need a lot more help,” left tackle Jermon Bushrod said.
The Bears led 20-10 after two third-quarter touchdown receptions by Alshon Jeffery — an 80-yarder on the second play of the half and a leaping 46-yard grab near the left pylon.
Jeffery finished with 12 catches for a franchise-record 249 yards, breaking the mark he set in October after it had stood untouched for 59 years.
Trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter, the Vikings converted one fourth down and three third downs — including Greg Jennings’ eight-yard touchdown catch — to cap an 89-yard drive.
The Bears fumbled on their next possession — guard Kyle Long caught a deflection and lost the ball — before Khaseem Greene intercepted a bobbled pass at the goal line.
The Bears couldn’t convert second-and-one and third-and-one and punted.
“Any run play, if you give up penetration,” Forte said, “it’s tough to gain those yards back.”
Down three with 1:55 left in regulation, the Vikings went for it on fourth-and-11 from their 8. Quarterback Matt Cassel — who replaced concussed starter Christian Ponder for the second half — found Jerome Simpson for 20 yards.
After a pass for a loss, Cassel threw three consecutive times for 62 yards. Three incompletions from the 12 forced a field goal.
With the game tied with 20 seconds left, Devin Hester returned the kickoff to midfield, but Gould missed a 66-yarder to force overtime.
“It was tough,” Bushrod said. “A lot of weird calls. A lot of penalties, flags, blah-blah-blah.
“There were a lot of swings in the game, a lot of ups and downs.’’