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Chicago Bears: Handing out game balls after the team’s first win of the 2019 season

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It wasn’t pretty but screw it, the Bears are (1-1) as they picked up their first win of the 2019 season. There wasn’t a lot to be excited about but there were three key players that played roles in the win and we’ve got them here.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty, but the Chicago Bears not only have their first win of the 2019 season and they find themselves at (1-1). They also still have a chance to get into their Week 6 bye with a winning record.

Much like their Week 3 win in 2018 against the Arizona Cardinals, this one doesn’t feel great, but a win is a win. More importantly, sometimes it takes teams a few weeks to find themselves, and stacking wins during the tough times are the sign of a true playoff team. That’s where the Bears find themselves after a Week 2 win.

Offensively, it wasn’t pretty (again), but I think that’s what most had expected. Not only were the Bears facing their former defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio, but historically speaking, winning in Denver in their first two home games of the season is next to an impossible feat. Not only were the Broncos (51-8-2) at home in the first two games of the season since the merger in 1972, but they were (20-2) in the post John Elway era.

I’m not going to oversell the win, but I also believe that this was the difference between a potential letdown of a season versus them figuring things out and making a run at a playoff spot.

Here are three players that played big roles in Sunday’s big win.

K Eddy Pineiro

NFL: Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Okay... So, we need to get this out of the way before we get any further into my game balls — Cody Parkey would not have made that kick and the Bears would be sitting at (0-2) if this was 2018.

The team’s kicking competition has been well documented since they brought in Redford Jones back in late January. We all know the story. Five different kickers rostered at some point in 2019 and all but one were cut. We also know that the team held four different tryouts, including having nine different kickers participate in the team’s rookie mini camp back in early May.

Despite that, general manager Ryan Pace still went out of his way to trade a conditional 2021 seventh round pick for one of the better college kickers to come out of the 2018 draft. Pineiro was Florida’s most accurate kicker and has always had a big leg. The question has always been mechanical consistency due to him being so raw at the position.

In Week 1, Pineiro was perfect with his one field goal. On Sunday, he was perfect again with three different made field goals, including one from 52-yards early in the game and of course, the game winner from 53-yards. Not only did he make a pressure packed kick, but he would have been good from 65-yards or more.

It appears all the patience paid off for the Bears, at least in the short-term. Despite an ugly game in general and blowing the lead with 31 seconds left in the game, all is well because of Pineiro and that’s worth some dinero.

S Eddie Jackson

NFL: Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

From a number’s standpoint, the Bears defense still appears to be among the league’s elite. They’ve given up just 24 points in two games and just two touchdowns overall. Despite that, I wouldn’t exactly call Sunday’s defensive performance a “good” one.

Obviously, the heat and altitude played a large part in this performance. Especially as the game progressed, it was clear the defense was gassed and simply put was very sloppy. It also didn’t help that the offense only put together three scoring drives before the Broncos’ final offense drive.

Despite all of that, Jackson stood out as the team’s best defender on Sunday. He finished the game with 10 total tackles, but more importantly, he had two big defended passes. While Kyle Fuller ended up with the team’s lone turnover in 2019 so far, Jackson’s play was a big reason why Fuller was able to capitalize on a high throw a few players later.

Jackson’s open field tackling is still somewhat consistent, but in a game in which the Bears opted to play loose in coverage, the third-year safety’s presence on the backside of the defense ultimately kept Denver’s offense to just 14 total points.

Honorable Mention: P Patrick O’Donnell

NFL: Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

I had to give this one some thought. Originally, I was going to slot Roquan Smith into this week’s honorable mention with his 13 total tackles and his presence as a whole.

The more and more I thought about it, though, I couldn’t help but give special teams coordinator Chris Tabor’s unit a little more love in a week that didn’t present a ton of good. For as clutch as Pineiro was on Sunday, O’Donnell’s punting also kept the Bears in the game.

O’Donnell finished the game with five punts for an average of (57.5) yards and a long of 75 yards. More importantly, he was consistent, especially when they needed him to be.

If that wasn’t enough, his hold on the game winning field goal played a key part in the Bears ultimately winning the game. Patrick Scales’ snap was low and O’Donnell had to not only bring it up, but get the snap down and the laces out. He did a perfect job and ultimately, Pineiro sunk the game winning kick. Don’t let that small detail be overlooked. O’Donnell had one of his best games in the NFL and it came at a time where the Bears truly needed it. A tip of the cap to the Bears’ punter.