(670 The Score) Before the infamous double-doink from Cody Parkey caused heartbreak in Chicago two years ago to the date Wednesday, the Bears nearly won because of a defining drive led by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in his playoff debut.
With the Bears trailing 16-15 against the Eagles late in their wild-card round matchup, Trubisky led his team into range for the infamous 43-yard field-goal attempt that Parkey drilled off the upright and crossbar. Instead of being the hero of the game, Trubisky could only watch in agony with his teammates.
Two years later, Trubisky and the Bears have another playoff chance, one that seemed unlikely just a few weeks ago. After an 8-8 campaign, the seventh-seeded Bears will play the second-seeded Saints (12-4) in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon in the wild-card round.
The Bears enter the matchup as considerable underdogs. To pull off an upset, they'll need Trubisky to help lead the way. And with his future in Chicago uncertain, Sunday offers another chance at authoring a defining moment in the playoffs.
"We got nothing to lose," Trubisky said. "We got nothing to lose. We know everybody is overlooking us."
Fifty-one games into his Bears career, Trubisky's place in Chicago is still unclear. His contract expires at season's end after the team declined his fifth-year option last spring. For all the referendums for or against Trubisky as the Bears' quarterback, he still has a last chance to prove something -- in what will be his greatest test of the season.
In a late-season surge against weak competition, Trubisky and the Bears produced four consecutive 30-point games against the Lions, Texans, Vikings and Jaguars -- who ranked 32nd, 27th, 29th and 31st in scoring defense. The Bears now face a Saints team that ranked fifth in scoring defense and third in takeaways. New Orleans also registered pressure on 25.6% of its opponents' dropbacks this season.
It means Trubisky must walk the fine line of taking chances in leading the Bears' offense while also protecting the football. In other words, Trubisky and Chicago will need to keep pace with New Orleans' fifth-ranked scoring offense while also not making the game-changing mistake.
“In the game of football, you are always playing with that line of when to try to make a big play or try not to take a really bad play," Trubisky said. "It’ll be just trusting my eyes and if I’m hot in a protection just throwing hot, if you need to re-mic and pick up a protection or if you need to check to get into a different play, just doing all the different things you can do to adjust to the blitzes. We have to be on top of that.
"It comes down to communication and study throughout the week and whatever they are giving us, we have to take it. It’s just staying poised in the pocket and doing our job. If everyone does their job description and we are on the same page communicating and pointing it out, I think we can pick it up or either throw hot and we can be on top of those adjustments that we need to do to be successful.
"Playoff football is about winning, and that is what is most important. And that is what defines quarterback play."
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.