On Thursday, Chicago Bears kicker Elliott Fry made a 43-yard field goal against the Carolina Panthers.
A routine kick in a preseason game generally doesn’t warrant headlines.
But these are the Bears, who were knocked out of the playoffs last season when Cody Parkey missed a 43-yarder and spent the offseason struggling to find a kicker who could convert the everyday kick.
Fry’s kick was toward the same Soldier Field end zone Parkey missed from in January.
Ron Rivera decides to amp up pressure on kick
Prior to the field goal, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera called a timeout. The local TV broadcasting team speculated if Bears coach Matt Nagy had asked Rivera to intentionally ice Fry to test him under pressure.
After the game, Rivera said that’s exactly what he was trying to do.
“You know what is funny, Rivera told reporters after the game. “I did that to help the Bears because they are in a kicking contest.”
Rivera has a soft spot for the Bears and Soldier Field, having spent his entire playing career in Chicago from 1984-92, winning a Super Bowl along the way. He also spent time as an assistant coach with the Bears.
Not planned with Nagy
Nagy denied any prior knowledge of Rivera’s timeout. He didn’t mind it, though.
"No, it wasn't planned,” Nagy told reporters. “But I'm kind of glad he did it.”
Nagy has been obsessive in finding a reliable kicker. He brought eight kickers into May’s minicamp to test them from 43 yards as the team watched them kick. Two of them converted.
"You could feel it," Nagy said of Fry lining up for a 43-yarder. "You could sense it, from all the fans.”
Fry converting the kick doesn’t mean that the Bears have found their guy. Eddy Pineiro is also on the preseason roster, but he missed a 48-yarder on Thursday.
And when the kick sailed through the uprights instead of bouncing off the crossbar, it had to have felt good.
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