Marc Trestman accepts blame but defends timing of Gould kick
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter December 2, 2013 9:44PM
Updated: January 4, 2014 6:34AM
Bears coach Marc Trestman was resolute. He usually is — win or lose, in good times and bad, no matter how curious or questionable his decision might be.
Trestman never flinched Monday when grilled by reporters for most of his 21-minute news conference at Halas Hall about the fateful decision to have Robbie Gould attempt a 47-yard field goal on second down in overtime against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
‘‘The decision is not anything I regret,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘I made the decision to do it on second-down-and-7, and we didn’t get it done.’’
The call to have Gould attempt the kick on second down was the talk of the town after Gould missed and the Vikings and Adrian Peterson drove for a field goal by Blair Walsh that gave them a 23-20 victory and mercifully ended a wild and crazy game.
Trestman was vilified by Bears fans and media for the unusual decision to kick on second down. Though Gould is the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history and was 5-for-5 on kicks of 47-58 yards this season at that point, 47 yards is not a chip shot for any kicker, especially on a potential game-winner. Matt Forte had gained seven, four, nine, one and three yards on consecutive runs to that point.
But Trestman had enough confidence in Gould to hit from 47 that he didn’t want to risk a penalty or turnover that might take the Bears out of Gould’s range. Also a factor was that the Vikings had an apparent game-winning field goal by Walsh nullified by a penalty that led to another miss from 57 yards earlier in the overtime.
‘‘Once we got inside the 30-yard line, we were going to kick it,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘We were . . . second-and-7, and the ball’s in the middle of the field, well within Robbie’s range.
‘‘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. That’s the decision I made in the best interest of the team. It didn’t work. I recognize that, and I accept accountability for that.’’
Trestman said the positioning of the ball in the middle of the field, as opposed to either of the hash marks (which are about 18 feet apart in the middle of the field), ‘‘was really the biggest reason.’’
A second-down run ‘‘could have put [the ball] on the hashmark, and you want to kick it on third down. It would have been hard not to get it exactly where we had it. . . . I just felt it was a good time and place — clearly within range, in the middle of the field. Good operations. And we didn’t get it done.’’
Throughout this season, Trestman has based some key decisions on statistical analysis. But the fact that the Bears were likely to gain yardage on a second-down rush — they’ve gained one yard or more on 78 percent of their rushing attempts, with only two lost fumbles and 10 penalties in 290 plays — did not factor in this decision.
‘‘I didn’t do it from an analytics standpoint — I did it from having been around Robbie the entire year and knowing how he kicks the ball and watching him kick in practice,’’ Trestman said.
The missed field goal overshadowed numerous other factors in the Bears’ control that led to the defeat and left them 6-6 and longshots for the playoffs. Trestman took the blame for all of it.
‘‘Robbie didn’t lose the game because he missed the kick,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘We had a number of different ways to win the game, and we didn’t get it done. And that all starts with me.’’