The final plays of regulation and overtime Sunday made official what the eye test had screamed, violently, for 62 minutes: the Bears are not a playoff team.
They were a lot of things following Sunday’s 26-20 overtime home loss to the 49ers, heretofore one of the worst teams in the NFL.
They were heartbroken after Robbie Gould’s wide-left field goal attempt as regulation expired with the game tied, his second miss of the game.
They were disconsolate after Blaine Gabbert’s game-winning 71-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in overtime and frustrated by the quarterback’s 44-yard scoring sprint to tie it with 1:42 left in regulation.
They were angered by the holding call that negated their first-quarter punt return touchdown and elated by the Deonte Thompson’s 74-yard kick return that set up Gould’s would-be game-winning try.
What they are, following a win against the Packers that vaulted them into the playoff periphery for only 10 days, is 5-7.
They lost their chance to reach.500 for the first time in 414 days.
“That one was quite the ride, from going high to low, high to low throughout the whole day,” tight end Zach Miller said. “And then at the end there come up with a kick return that big. And then get in position to have it. It’s tough.”
Asked if it was the strangest game of his career, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee put it in his top five.
“I damn sure thought we had that win,” he said.
After the 49ers’ first possession, the Bears ran the same misdirection punt return the Seahawks used against them for a touchdown in Week 3. Most of the team blocked right for Marc Mariani, who pretended he had the ball, while Bryce Callahan caught the ball on the left sideline and sprinted for a 65-yard score.
LaRoy Reynolds’ holding penalty negated it, though, and the Bears settled for the first of Gould’s two first-quarter field goals.
NIU alum Jimmie Ward then jumped Jay Cutler’s screen to Alshon Jeffery and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. Eddie Goldman blocked the extra point, but the 49ers were tied at 6 despite posting five first-quarter yards.
Running backs Matt Forte and Shaun Draughn traded touchdown runs in the second quarter, and the 13-13 tie held until the quarter, when Cutler shook off a body slam sack to march the Bears 83 yards on six plays.
Ka’Deem Carey’s 4-yard touchdown was matched by Gabbert’s 44-yard run — on third-and-3 — to tie it with 1:42 left.
Gould’s miss forced overtime, and Smith’s 71-yard corner route ended a miserable afternoon.
And their playoff hopes.
“It definitely doesn’t help the situation,” said tackle Jermon Bushrod. “But there’s the last quarter of the season and you don’t really know what’s going to happen.
“Just like out there: that was wild. That was a wild finish. It could be a wild finish to the year. You never know.”
After Sunday, the Bears probably do.
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