After making a 53-yard field goal at the gun to beat the Broncos, Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday. The rookie also made his two other kicks — from 40 and 52 yards — Sunday in the Bears’ 16-14 victory and has made all four tries this season.
After emerging from the Bears’ kicker derby, Pineiro became the first Bear to win the NFC award since — well, this is awkward — Cody Parkey.
He won the honor in Week 11 last year after making three field goals in a 25-20 victory against the Vikings. That didn’t do much to increase coach Matt Nagy’s trust in the struggling kicker. In the Bears’ next game, he had backup quarterback Chase Daniel try a two-point conversion pass in the second quarter rather than let Parkey attempt the extra point. Parkey missed three field goals and one extra point in the next seven weeks, including the infamous playoff double doink.
The lesson: The award is a reason for Pineiro and the Bears to be confident, but it is not a coronation.
“Confidence level definitely goes up,” Pineiro said. “You hit a game-winner, you feel like you’re definitely on top. Just come down to earth now — and get ready to practice and get ready for the next game.
“I enjoyed it for the first 24 hours. Now it’s over. The kick already happened.”
Nagy’s confidence has skyrocketed, too. Pineiro said he hoped it would lead to more opportunities, subtly referencing Nagy’s Week 1 decision to go for it on fourth-and-10 rather than letting him try a 51-yard field goal at home against the Packers.
“Like I always said, I’m trying to gain trust from them,” he said. “Now that [Nagy] has seen me hit a couple of 50-yarders, maybe he lets me try a few longer ones.
“So it’s all a trust process. But we work for that moment behind the scenes at practice. Last-second kick [or] your team loses — we’ve been doing this for the last four months now.”
In May, the Bears sent a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2021 draft to the Raiders for Pineiro. The pick will be conveyed only if Pineiro is on the Bears’ roster for five games this season, which is looking increasingly likely.
Pineiro is responsible for 13 of the Bears’ 19 points and is, at least this week, the most famous kicker in the NFL.
“It’s something he worked for,” wide receiver Allen Robinson said. “In situations like that, that’s the difference between a win or a loss. So coming out to the last play and making the kick, it’s well-deserved.”
Guard Kyle Long said the last-minute effort to salvage the victory was “why football is so amazing.”
“[Pineiro] definitely craves the pressure,” Long said. “And that’s something that coach Nagy has talked about for a long time, craving pressure and being in those pressure situations. We’ve been there before. How do we deliver?
“And you saw that thing throughout the whole game. I mean, at the end of the game with [quarterback] Mitch [Trubisky] stepping up and making a big throw, Allen catching it, Eddy making the field goal. It’s a team effort.”
Pineiro felt the same way.
“Yeah, I made the kick, and you can say it was my award,” he said. “But it was really just the whole organization, starting with [general manager] Ryan Pace believing in me and giving me an opportunity. And Nagy believing in me.”