By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
An exciting end to an ugly game got the Chicago Bears their first victory in 2019.
Saying it wasn’t pretty at all is an understatement, but getting to the 16-14 victory was one of the most exciting finishes on the day and you know what they always say — “a win is a win.” Never ever feel bad for winning in the NFL, no matter how ugly or pretty the victory is.
The win moved the Bears into a tie for last place with the Vikings at 1-1 in the NFC North with some mojo going into their next game at Washington next Monday night. All the mojo came because of kicker Eddy Pineiro hitting a game winning 53 yard kick with just one second left in the game. Almost a sort of exorcism from last year’s struggles to now having a potential diamond in the rough at kicker.
As the players ran onto the field to congratulate their young kicker, it felt as if a cloud of bad air lifted off the team and perhaps a new found sense of confidence. It’s too bad the game was even as close at it was but to leave a tough place to play like Denver is big time. Heading into this game Denver had been 20-1 since 2000 at home in September. The conditions this time of year are extremely difficult and you could see how the environment was starting to negatively effect the team as the game went on.
Perseverance and poise were the great equalizers for the Bears as they did just enough to win. Here are some more takeaways from yesterday’s dramatic victory.
New Kicker on the Block
Without getting too ahead of ourselves, it looks like the Bears kicking competition has been a success. The process has been so widely discussed since the departure of kicker Cody Parkey that many have wondered if the Bears did a good enough job.
Obviously, the returns have been everything the Bears could have hoped with Pineiro scoring 13 of the Bears 19 points this season and has yet to miss. But not enough can be said about Pineiro saving the Bears from the jaws of defeat.
His confidence is normally high but Pineiro must be on a new level today at Halas Hall. Question marks still remain for the Bears as it was far from a perfect victory but if they really have found something in Pineiro then what a boost that will be for the rest of the season.
It looked clear that the entire team was expecting the usual doink or miss but when the ball went through an ecstatic team looked confident they solved a big problem. Still early and Pineiro has to keep it up but knowing the Bears have a kicker that can handle the moment is one of the biggest positives from Sunday’s game.
Offense Still Stuck in Neutral
For as bad as the Bears offense looked week one, many hoped it would be a total reversal in Sunday’s game. The offense definitely looked better but that isn’t saying much from their opening loss. Way too many issues are still unsolved but at least this week their was a clear commitment to the run. In total, the Bears had 29 rush attempts for 153 yards and a long run of 46 from utility man Cordarrelle Patterson.
Head coach Matt Nagy made a nice gameplan of balance as it was a near 50/50 split of run to pass. They really needed the run game because outside of the rushing attack, the Bears offense really struggled. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky again had a week of struggles with accuracy down the field and finished with a quarterback rating of just 70.0, completing just 59%, and throwing for only 120 yards.
It would have been a total disaster day for Trubisky if he hadn’t put the Bears in position to win the game. He completed a huge 4th & 15 and called the last timeout to leave the lone second for Pineiro’s kick. Something is not right with the Bears passing attack and if this team truly has big aspirations then that has to change soon.
Trubisky has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league over the first couple games. All eyes will be on the Bears next Monday night and Trubisky/Nagy have to start showing legitimacy of this offense.
Another thing seemingly missing about the Bears team this year is a swagger and mojo. Last season, the team was extremely confident and felt like true hunters.
Things are different this year, where the Bears are the hunted but they seemingly don’t have the typical swag of a year ago. Perhaps it was the huge egg laid on opening night but even in Sunday’s game, the Broncos looked like the more confident team especially in the fourth quarter. Stealing a victory like that after a embarrassment in Week 1 must feel like a lift for the whole team. Hopefully now the swagger will come back and fill the entire locker room.
Confidence and dominance were trademarks of the team last year and they need it back. If this group is going to be a champion then they must be able to handle expectation and meet the moment. This Bears team needs to come out hungry with swagger and show the NFL that they indeed are a team no one wants to mess with.
The rest of the games this year will get tougher and tougher so winning early in the season is critical. Now its a matter of the team doing what Nagy says all the time, stacking victories. First victory wasn’t pretty but no one will care if it helps this team get to a level of performance in order to make a special run.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR