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Why did the Panthers ice the kicker? ‘To help the Bears’

Why would the Panthers use a tactic reserved for the game’s most important kicks in the first preseason contest?

Bears kicker Elliott Fry made a 43-yard field goal in the first half of Thursday’s preseason game against the Panthers.
Brian O’Mahoney/For the Sun-Times

The Bears took a timeout with three seconds left in the first half of their preseason opener Thursday night.

Then the Panthers did the same — to ice Elliott Fry, who tried, and made, a 43-yard field goal as the half expired.

Why would the Panthers use a tactic reserved for the game’s most important kicks in the first preseason contest?

“I did that to help the Bears, because they’re in a kicking contest,” said Panthers coach Ron Rivera after his team’s preseason victory. “So at the end of the day …

“There’s an alternative reason to doing it now and then in the preseason as well.”

The Panthers wanted to show that look?

“Absolutely,” Rivera said.

Rivera, of course, has Chicago ties. He played for the Bears from 1984-92 and was the team’s defensive coordinator from 2004-06.

Bears coach Matt Nagy said the two didn’t discuss it beforehand.

“It wasn’t planned,” he said, “ but I’m kinda glad he did it.”