Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro nails 53-yard game-winner, says Jesus is real

Questions have swirled around the Chicago Bears’ kicking situation for months. On Sunday in Denver, Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro answered them all with one powerful swing of his leg.

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The Bears trailed the Denver Broncos by a point with one second on the clock as Pineiro lined up a 53-yard field goal. Bears fans everywhere held their collective breath as they remembered last year’s kicking mishap in the playoffs. Unfazed, Pineiro pointed to the sky then sent the ball sailing through the uprights to cap a wild fourth quarter with a 16-14 win, Chicago’s first of the season.

Pineiro was mobbed by his Bears teammates and circled Empower Field at Mile High to bask in his historic moment. Yet Pineiro pointed elsewhere during the on-field postgame interview.

“I couldn’t have done it without my team,” Pineiro said. “Thank God that it was to this point, and for everybody listening, man, if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ you better start, because He’s real. I promise you that.”

Pineiro repeated his refrain in the postgame press conference and on Twitter, where he’s known to tweet about his faith in Christ.

Sunday was only Pineiro’s second career regular-season NFL game. He spent last season on the Oakland Raiders’ practice squad after going undrafted out of the University of Florida in 2018.

Pineiro, who turned 24 on Friday, was busy kicking a soccer ball rather than a football only a few short years ago as a member of the soccer team at ASA College in his home state of Florida. Then in 2015, he attended an open kicking combine at Alabama and caught the eye of Nick Saban, who offered him a scholarship.

But Pineiro had visions of playing for the Gators. He tried out for the team, impressed again, and decided to enroll at Florida — where he boldly chose jersey No. 15, which was worn by the legendary Tim Tebow. Pineiro left Gainesville after two seasons as the school’s all-time leader in field goal conversion rate (88.4 percent).

Now Pineiro will try to continue that success in a Bears uniform, and he couldn’t have had a better start after an offseason of scrutiny. He’s 4 for 4 on field goals and 1 for 1 on extra points through his first two games, including a 52-yarder and his game-winning 53-yarder. When his team needed him most, Pineiro knew he was ready.

“All of the stuff I’ve been though, like I was praying, ‘God, give me this shot. Give me this shot to win the game,'” Pineiro told the Chicago Tribune. “Thank God it happened.”

Chicago will travel to Washington next Monday night at 8:15 p.m. ET as Pineiro will seek to continue his hot start.

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