Bears

Bears fans go wild for Eddy Pineiro's last-second game-winning field goal in Denver

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USA TODAY

Bears fans go wild for Eddy Pineiro's last-second game-winning field goal in Denver

The Bears won in one of the most chaotic endings in recent memory. It all got capped off with a 53-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro with a second left.


After double-doink ended the Bears’ season last year, Pineiro quickly won the hearts and minds of Bears fans. As with any big moment, there was plenty of reaction on social media.


For what it's worth, Eddy Street is a street on the North Side of Chicago. Maybe a Pineiro Drive? OK, maybe not until he does it in the playoffs.


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As free agency looms, LB Nick Kwiatkoski focusing only on next game

As free agency looms, LB Nick Kwiatkoski focusing only on next game

One of the feel-good stories of the Bears 2019 season is the ascent of linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, the career-backup-turned-starter for a variety of reasons this year.

His first run with the starters came in Week 4 against the Vikings when he filled in for Roquan Smith, who was deactivated shortly before the game for still undisclosed personal reasons. Kwiatkoski responded with eight tackles and a sack and was highlighted as one of Chicago's bright stars from the 16-6 victory.

He returned to his reserve role for several weeks until Danny Trevathan's elbow injury in Week 9. In Week 10 against the Lions, Kwiatkoski enjoyed the best day of his career. He recorded another eight tackles, one sack and an interception on Thanksgiving, and was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded linebacker for the week. 

Kwiatkoski's play has remained steady over the last four games as a starter, and with his rookie contract set to expire at season's end, he's proving to the Bears and the rest of the NFL that he deserves a significant pay raise.

Even in limited action this season, Kwiatkoski is fifth on the Bears in tackles (52) and has the second-highest PFF grade among starters on Chicago's defense (79.8).

Week 15's rivalry game against the Packers may be Kwiatkoski's most challenging of the season, however. It'll mark the first time this year that he won't have either Smith (who's out for the season with a torn pec) or Trevathan (who's still recovering from his elbow injury) lined up next to him. Instead, it'll be little-known Kevin Pierre-Louis.

Kwiatkoski, who appeared on Ian Rapoport's "Rapsheet + Friends" podcast this week, acknowledged what Smith's absence means to the defense.

"He's a guy who flies around, does a great job of communicating and just an all-around very good football player," Kwiatkoski said. "As for this past game, Kevin Pierre-Louis did a great job of coming in on short notice. He played really well. Guys like me and guys like him, we just have to step up."

Kwiatkoski told Rapoport that the Bears' three-game winning streak is a product of the team's "all eyes on the next game" approach. But what about that expiring contract? 

"I haven't really thought about it," he said. "There's a lot of football to be played here. It's definitely in the back of my mind, but I really haven't given it that much of a thought yet."

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Anthony Miller's earned the Bears' trust. Now he just needs to prove he can keep it.

Anthony Miller's earned the Bears' trust. Now he just needs to prove he can keep it.

Given how confusing and uncertain the Bears’ offense has been this season, there’s a bit of irony in the fact that it has always been clear when they do or do not trust Anthony Miller. 

Like, for instance, the first three games of the season, when Miller was targeted five times, catching three balls for 17 yards. Or in the three weeks leading up to their Week 11 loss in Los Angeles, when Miller had four catches on six targets. He’ll disappear as quickly as he reappears a month later, and working to remain consistent throughout a full season has proved difficult through the first two years of Miller’s career. 

“He cares. He cares a lot,” Mitch Trubisky said. “He works his tail off in practice. Just that communication from him – that he wants the ball, and you know that he has the ability to get open within this offense. He's done a lot from the learning standpoint about where he belongs within each spot, within each concept, and even when he's not getting the ball, where he's blocking, who he's blocking.” 

Then there are stretches, like over the last month, when he looks like he could be a focal point of the offense. He’s been targeted 37 times over the last four games, with 18 receptions, 313 yards and a touchdown (finally!). Miller’s not the first wide receiver to insist that he’s a volume guy and definitely won’t be the last, but the offense is inarguably more dynamic when Miller’s involved – which, so far, has meant finding a drive or two where he gets four or five targets. 

“I definitely feel different,” Miller said after setting a career high in receptions (9) and yards (140) during the Bears’ Thanksgiving win over Detroit. “I feel like I’m getting more opportunities, I feel like I’m getting more involved. When I’m more involved I feel like I can make a lot of plays for this team. Coaches have just been giving me the opportunities and I’ve been taking advantage.” 

The Bears’ coaches will certainly take 9 receptions for 140 yards, but his talent as a pass catcher has never been what frustrated Matt Nagy, Mark Helfrich and company. It was Miller’s habit for mental mistakes – like cutting a route off two yards short on an interception in Los Angeles – and undisciplined play, like the taunting penalty on a touchdown celebration in London. To Miller’s credit, Nagy is quick to give the wide receiver credit for never making the same mistake twice; a finer attention to executing details also happened to be what the head coach liked most about Miller’s touchdown against Dallas. 

“What I liked about Anthony was he caught the ball and he set up his blocks and got vertical,” Nagy said. “It was aggressive. He had a mindset that no one's stopping him getting to that goal line and you felt it. And you felt the energy after he scored. Just again another example of guys detailing leverage, detailing what they're supposed to do, executing and making us look like good coaches.” 

This season Miller’s seemed to have a weird, probably-coincidental habit of playing well for three game stretches, and then disappearing for three game stretches. It’s actually kind of uncanny. If you’re superstitious you may want to look away, because right now he’s one (quiet) game removed from his best three-game stretch of the season. Give us some reassurance, Mitch! 

“He's earned that trust and he's been busting his tail to get on the same page with me,” the quarterback said on Wednesday. “And he's done a tremendous job for this offense, especially stepping up when some of the other guys being out.”