THE MORNING AFTER: At last, the kicker is no longer a question for the Bears

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 15: Eddy Pineiro #15 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a 53 yard field goal in the final second of the fourth quarter to defeat the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on September 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

DENVER – Who would have thought that a position of such turmoil over the past year would actually be one that would bring great joy?

That sure didn’t seem a possibility back on January 6th, the rookie camp tryouts, or even a month ago, when the kicking picture was a muddled as it was since the “double-doink.”

But on Sunday, that seemed to disappear. One swing of the leg, one football splitting the uprights with room to spare before the crossbar. One game that looks like defeat suddenly turning into victory.

A kicker made that happen for the Chicago Bears. Oh, how things can turn so quickly.

“The biggest thing I could say is if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, you better start because he’s real,” said a joyous and emotional Pineiro after the game. “That’s the biggest thing I can say.”

It was truly a moment that many didn’t believe they’d see in 2019, considering the true quest it was to find the kicker. But indeed they’ve got their guy in Pineiro – a confident player with a strong leg and a knack for knocking down the big kick.

He came to Chicago after the infamous eight-kicker tryout during rookie camp which was featured in Sports Illustrated back in August. He competed with Elliott Fry during training camp in the most scrutinized kicking tryout in Bears’ history, with the highlight of practice often being their kicks.

Pineiro missed his first kick of the preseason, yet didn’t let it phase him, beating out Fry for the job, then doing enough to prove to management that they didn’t need to bring in another before the season.

This year, he knocked down kicks of 38, 40, 52, and the dramatic 53-yard winners, which included a jubilant celebration from the kicker following the game.

“I was pretty positive he was going to put it through,” said Mitchell Trubisky of Pineiro. “He’s got a lot of confidence right now, and we’re behind him 100 percent.”

That’s refreshing, right?

At last, the kicker position is something that people can put on the back-burner. No more obsessing over whether he’s the guy or wondering if someone else could be brought in. Pineiro’s confidence and performance have won him the job, and an inspired kick to win the Bears’ first game of 2019.

There are a number of issues the Bears have when it comes to scoring points. Mitchell Trubisky’s play continues to be suspect, though his pressure throw to Allen Robinson with a second left gave Pineiro the chance to win it the game. The offense sputtered for the most part, and only reached the endzone once, continuing their slow start to the season.

But at least there’s one less thing for the team to worry about since their year-long placed kicking nightmare appears to be over.

“It means everything. I’ve been working my butt off. All the stuff that I’ve been through, the ‘Augusta Silence,’ the kickers getting cut left and right, and all the crazy things going on, it was a pretty cool moment to have this opportunity.”

It’s one that he seized with a major kick that makes misses of the past fade away.

 

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