DENVER (AP) — Eddy Pineiro won Chicago’s nerve-wracking kicking competition.
Now, he’s winning over Bears fans and teammates who suffered through the double-doink miss by Cody Parkey that sent them home from the playoffs.
Pineiro kicked a 53-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Bears a wild 16-14 win Sunday over the Broncos and their former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, whose gutsy 2-point call 31 seconds earlier had given Denver the lead.
“Well, that was a crazy one,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “Absolutely crazy. Just a whirlwind of emotions going back and forth.”
Like the game.
“It’s not how you draw it up,” Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky said. “It’s definitely not.”
The Broncos, who are off to their first 0-2 start since 1999, thought they’d survived and that time had expired when cornerback Chris Harris Jr. tackled Allen Robinson after he hauled in a 25-yard pass on fourth-and-15 from Trubisky at the Denver 35.
The clock showed all zeroes and both teams milled around on the field not knowing whether to celebrate a win or lament a loss. Then referee Adrian Hill announced there was 1 second remaining and Chicago was using its last timeout.
Pineiro’s third field goal, a day after his 24th birthday, sent the Bears (1-1) streaming back onto the field in celebration of a victory that seemed so unlikely after they’d surrendered the lead moments earlier.
“I knew deep down in my heart that it was going in,” Khalil Mack said. “You put that pressure on that guy, Eddy P., the birthday man. He came out and nailed it. That’s how you want to play ball. Kudos to everyone else sticking in there and believing. I’m glad to get the win and get the hell up out of here.”
In a whipsaw of emotion, cornerback Kyle Fuller, whose goal-line interception with five minutes left seemingly sealed Chicago’s win, surrendered a 7-yard tiptoe TD to Emmanuel Sanders . Sanders barely got both feet toes down in the right corner of the end zone.
That made it 13-12, and the Broncos lined up for 2. A delay pushed them back 5 yards and Fangio sent Brandon McManus out instead for the extra point from the 20-yard line and the tie. But McManus was wide right and the Bears went wild.
Hold on: a flag on Chicago.
Buster Skrine was offside and the Broncos moved up to the 1. Out came their offense again, and with an empty backfield, Joe Flacco backpedaled and hit Sanders at the goal line in front of Fuller to give Denver a 14-13 lead.
For the second straight game, the Broncos failed to get a sack, but linebacker Bradley Chubb came close, hitting Trubisky just as he got off a throw to tight end Trey Burton for 10 yards. A debatable roughing call on Chubb tacked on 15 yards and the Bears were suddenly in business at the Broncos 45.
“We had our chances to win there,” Fangio said. “Obviously, the critical penalty at the end of the game there, the roughing call was huge because it stops the clock, saves their timeout and gives them 15 yards.”
Three incompletions were followed by a 12-men-in-the-huddle infraction, however, and the Bears were facing fourth-and-15 from their 40 with 9 seconds remaining.
Trubisky stepped up and found Robinson over the middle in the nick of time. Harris’ tackle came 1 second too early for the Broncos, who saw their 13 home game September winning streak snapped.
“Tough call, tough game,” said Von Miller, who remains stuck on 98 career sacks.
Chicago finally reached the end zone — by the nose of the football — with 1:14 left in the third quarter when running back David Montgomery scored from a yard out on the Bears’ sixth snap from inside the 5 and fifth straight from the 1 or 2. That put them ahead 13-3.
“I’m going to turn this around,” promised Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles , the team’s top draft pick in 2017, who was whistled for holding a career-worst four times.
That gave him an NFL-high 34 flags in 34 career starts.
“Garett’s going to learn from this game,” Fangio said. “They have some good players, and he’s going to learn from it. But he’s our left tackle and he’s going to be our left tackle — and he needs to play without holding.”
Bolles had 10 holding calls his rookie season, nine last year and already five this season, when he seems to have actually regressed under Hall of Famer Mike Munchak.
Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, who won a Super Bowl ring in Denver, had a dozen tackles in his homecoming.
Bears starting DT Bilal Nichols was knocked out with a hand injury in the third quarter. … Broncos starters ILB Todd Davis (calf) and CB Bryce Callahan (foot) were held out for the second straight week.
Chicago: visits Washington on Sept. 23.
Denver: visits Green Bay on Sunday.
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