The Chicago Bears evened their record at 1-1 with an incredible come from behind victory over the winless Denver Broncos (0-2) on Sunday in Colorado. It was a crazy game that went back and forth, at least in the end.
Eddy Pineiro Upstages Denver Broncos Two-Point Conversion
After scoring their first touchdown of the day with just 31 seconds remaining to make the score Bears 13-12, Broncos coach Vic Fangio was incredulous as his team was called for delay of game on the original two-point conversion. You could tell Fangio wanted to bury the Bears right there after Emmanuel Sanders scored on a seven-yard pass from Joe Flacco. Instead, Fangio decided to tie the game with a 38 yard PAT rather than having to go for the two-point conversion from the seven-yard line. He wanted to make a name for himself and win the game. Taking a page out of Nebraska legendary coach Tom Osborne in the famous 1983/’84 Orange Bowl, Fangio wanted to be a ‘Real Man’.
Only after the Bears Buster Skrine jumped offsides on the PAT did Coach Fangio have a second chance to be a “real man.” After the crazy series of events which allowed Denver to try the conversion from the one-yard line, Sanders scored again with another reception from Flacco to give Denver the 14-13 lead. I guess one could say Mr. Vic Fangio indeed became a “real man.” Only it wasn’t meant to be on this Sunday afternoon in mid-September.
…..Yet Sometimes Real Men Lose
After the lucky, yet magical, way that Chicago moved the ball 40 yards into Denver’s half of the field, it was time for Bears new placekicker Eddy Pineiro to get his chance. Afterward, Pineiro claimed, “I was talking to Pat (O’Donnell) on the sidelines going, ‘Man, I hope I get this shot.'” Eddy was granted his wish as he nailed the game-winning 53-yarder as time expired. Like his inspiration, Vic Fangio ultimately was the losing coach but in time he’ll be respected for his decision and his players will play harder for the man “who went for it all.” This winning mentality will help form his Denver teams for years to come.
Meanwhile, Eddy Pineiro gained his teammates, coaches, and fans respect by nailing the game-winner and I guess one could say, showing who the “real man” really is.
Pat O’Donnell is being awarded a game ball for a second consecutive week, which might be a record for a punter. Nonetheless, O’Donnell honestly deserves it. In this game, he punted five times for a 57.4-yard average. He pooched one inside the 20 and booted his career-long of 75 yards! Not only that, but O’Donnell is the holder for kicks and did a wonderful job getting the hold down for Pineiro on the game-winning field goal.
Roquan Smith posted 13 tackles in this game in which the opponent ran 74 plays to Chicago’s 56. No wonder the defense broke down and looked tired in the fourth quarter (more on that later). Smith didn’t make any game-changing plays in this victory but he was reliable. Several times he got low to tackle the Broncos bulldozing running back Royce Freeman, who is a load to bring down. Without Smith, who knows what would’ve happened if Freeman got a head of steam charging into the secondary?
Danny Trevathan was somehow overlooked going into this game despite the fact it was a homecoming game for him. Trevathan returned to his former home of glory, the place where he was drafted in the sixth round in 2012, and the team that he led in tackles on their road to the 2015 Super Bowl Championship season. Several times Trevathan “dispensed justice,” as Fox Sports broadcaster Mark Schlereth explained. Another great line from Schlereth was “Some people talk about wings, while others just fly.” It was definitely a unique day in the broadcasting booth with Dick Stockton and Schlereth on the mics. Like Schlereth, Trevathan is a former Bronco. Despite all that background noise, he totaled 12 tackles and one quarterback hit in playing another solid game for Chicago.
The Defense Is Showing Signs of Dominance
When Trevathan and Smith play together like this in the middle of the Bears defense, one can see why Chicago has one of, if not the best defense in all of pro football. The Bears led the NFL in points allowed per game last year at 17.5 and through two games this season are third at 12.0 points per game allowed. Also, the Bears are fourth in yards allowed per game at 292.5. Chicago has only given up two touchdowns through two games and is playing at a championship caliber.
The Bears may have been lucky to squeeze out this victory but we don’t view it that way. First of all, Denver had the number five defense from last year according to Football Outsiders. When one thinks of all the reasons Chicago could have and maybe should have lost this game, it becomes apparent that this was an important character builder. As Khalil Mack said in the postgame, “Altitude is a real thing. At the end of the day, I don’t care how you get the W. It was a hard win. I’ll take it.” Coach Matt Nagy stated in the postgame locker room, “You need one second and the ball. If you have one second and the ball, you have a chance to win.”
Outside of the former defensive coordinator now coaching the opposing team, the lost confidence from the poor showing in the opener, and Denver’s home-field advantage, it was plenty for Chicago to overcome. Don’t forget about the altitude adjustment.
Altitude is most definitely a real thing. Teams get tired in the later stages of a game when they play in the Mile High City. Denver’s official altitude is 5,280 feet. A mile is exactly 5,280 feet. Chicago, by comparison, is 595 feet. It’s a gigantic home-field advantage for the Broncos when they play a team that’s not from a high altitude. You run out of energy after having to breathe much harder to get the necessary oxygen.
However, the yin-yang of life is ever-present. There’s a positive to high altitude. The ball flies farther in thinner air.
Player of the Game
Eddy Pineiro is our Week Two Player of the Game for his perfect afternoon kicking the football. He made all four kicks on Sunday, three field goals and one PAT. Pineiro’s field goals were from distances of 40, 52, and 53 yards. He scored 10 of the Bears 16 points on the day and stopped all worries about the Bears kicking game. You can’t do much more than make all your kicks, including a game-winner in a stressful environment. Plus, two kicks were over 50 yards. It was an incredible day for Eddy and thus, the Bears.
? WALK OFF GAME WINNER!
Eddy Piñiero from 53 yards! WOW ?#CHIvsDEN
— PFF (@PFF) September 15, 2019
Can you imagine if Pineiro missed that kick? Chicago would be 0-2. Matt Nagy, Eddy Pineiro, and all the Bears players would be answering questions all week about what went wrong. Do the Bears still have confidence in field goals? Is Pineiro the guy? Will this team’s season come down to a position that just can’t be fixed? Fans would call up sports radio and bad-mouth everything that happened regarding the kicking tryouts since Cody Parkey‘s double-doink.
Instead, the Bears move forward. The momentum is back. The team is happy. The fans are ecstatic to start planning for a playoff season. Next up, another Monday Night game in Washington, D.C. So long from Denver. By the way, what’s the altitude in D.C.?