Bears still confident in Eddy Pineiro despite missing game-winner vs. Chargers


The Bears began the 2019 offseason without a clear starter at kicker. And on a team that was considered so well-rounded and ready to compete for a Super Bowl, it was a really big deal.

After a training camp and preseason kicking competition that could have been described as gimmicky at times, Eddy Pineiro rose above the collection of no-name contestants and won the job. In Week 2 against the Denver Broncos, his last-second kick won the game for Chicago and sparked his ascent as a fan-favorite on this roster.

Pineiro's been as good as the Bears could've hoped through six games, connecting on all but one of his field-goal attempts prior to Sunday's 17-16 loss to the Chargers. But given another opportunity to boot a game-winner against an AFC West opponent, Pineiro missed. He was wide-left and finished Week 8 with two misses (3-of-5). Those six points were the difference between a resurgent 4-3 record and potentially season-ending mark of 3-4, where the Bears now stand.

Pineiro is 12-for-15 (80%) on the season, and his prior success had coach Matt Nagy confident he'd make the final kick.

"I know who he is as a person," Nagy said Monday from Halas Hall. "We've seen it in practice and we've already seen him nail a 53 [yard] game-winner in Denver."

And while Nagy maintained he had little doubt about Pineiro's ability to seal a victory, he explained how Pineiro's history at Soldier Field played into his decision to take a knee instead of gain a few extra yards on the team's final possession.

"His longest kick in Soldier Field is 46 [yards]. If you're further back, you can try to get the odds to go up a lot and not kick a 54, 55, 52, you can throw the ball or try to do something different, but where we were, we felt very comfortable with where we were."

Nagy has repeated, several times, that he wouldn't change his approach to the final possession -- even if he had 1,000 do-overs. He may have placed too much faith in Pineiro from that distance and assumed a 41-yard attempt was more than a comfortable range for the rookie who's proven to have a very powerful leg. That said, common sense dictates the closer the attempt, the easier it is. And even if a running play lost four or five yards, by Nagy's own admission, it still would've been in Pineiro's range. It seems like it would've been well worth the risk to try to get a little closer.

Confidence in this Bears team is waning by the week. But faith in Pineiro, and quarterback Mitch Trubisky, remains high despite a varying degree of failure.

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