LANDOVER, Md. — As the Bears worked through their preseason kicking competition, a core principle of it was this: How would a kicker respond to a missed field goal?
Eddy Pineiro missed his first regular season field goal in the Bears’ 31-15 win over Washington Monday at FedEx Field, a 44-yarder that leaked wide right in the third quarter. He responded by connecting on a 38-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, capping a strong late-game drive by the Bears to seal their second win of the season.
That Pineiro succeeded in bouncing back was made more impressive by the pinched nerve he dealt with in his right (kicking) leg.
“I felt it in every kick,” Pineiro, who also made all four of his PATs, said. “I gotta muscle through it. A lotta people play with pain. I’m not the only one that plays with pain.”
Pineiro was visibly hobbled by the injury, which he suffered in the Bears’ weight room on Friday. But he kicked well in pregame warm-ups while under the watchful eyes of special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, kicking consultant Jamie Kohl and head trainer Andre Tucker. Tabor gave the thumbs up to coach Matt Nagy before the game, meaning Nagy didn’t have to resort to his contingency plan — which would’ve involved some combination of going for two, being aggressive on fourth down and using punter Pat O’Donnell on field goal tries.
“I give him credit for fighting through that and fighting through the pain,” Nagy said. “He did his job and then hit that big field goal at the end.”
Pineiro didn’t sound concerned that his injury could get worse by kicking — “it’s not like I pulled a muscle or anything,” he said. So for him on Monday, it was more of a pain tolerance thing and making sure he could keep his kicking leg locked, which he said was “tough.”
Pineiro isn’t sure how much his injury can realistically heal in the six days between Monday’s game in Maryland and Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. But the Bears exited Week 3 feeling good about where they stand with Pineiro, who displayed the kind of mental toughness they hoped to see after a miss — as well as some physical toughness, too.
“Kickers, unless they have something nagging that’s going on, they’re not getting banged up every game like these other guys are where they have body ailments that they gotta take care of throughout the week,” Nagy said. “So when something comes up like that and you’re in a little pain, you gotta fight through it. I give credit to Tabes and Jamie Kohl and Eddy for coming up with a solution and making it work today.”