Cain proves to be a reliable fill-in

Bears short-term long snapper Jeremy Cain was flawless in Sunday's crucial victory over the Ravens, which included a high-pressure snap during the game-winning field goal in overtime.

Chicago Bears long snapper Jeremy Cain, an eight-year veteran, has been around the NFL for a while, and his experience proved crucial in the club's 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

At the end of a game that included numerous momentum shifts, a goal-line stand and a two-hour rain delay, the veteran long snapper lined up over the ball to snap a potential game-winning field goal. After a perfect snap, Robbie Gould's 38-yard field goal sailed through the uprights and Chicago picked up its sixth victory of the season, putting the team in a tie with the Detroit Lions atop the NFC North.

"I knew it would be fine, really," Cain said after the game, "but as a guy stepping in for Pat Mannelly, playing in a crucial game for this team, there was some pressure for sure."

The Bears signed Cain shortly after Mannelly (calf) was injured in Week 9 against the Packers. Cain is not stranger to Chicago, having played eight games for the Bears in 2004-2005, before spending six years with the Jacksonville Jaguars roster.

The extremely windy weather definitely didn't help either Gould or Cain as they lined up for the final field goal attempt.

"It was crazy out there," Cain said. "I'll be interested to watch the game film later and see what was going on. What I remember most was stuff swirling around the stadium. Big stuff like garbage bags, huge popcorn boxes, and people's ponchos. The wind was incredibly strong. I think gusts were around 50 (mph) or so, and the direction kept changing. Oh yes, add to that the swirling rain. Not fun for a field goal attempt."

Earlier in the day, Soldier Field was cleared of both players and fans as tornados and drenching rains approached from the West. Play was halted for a total of 1:53 midway through the first quarter with the Ravens leading by a score of 10-0.

"We had plenty of time to think about that while we were waiting in the locker room during that break," Cain said. "I talked to Robbie some about the conditions we'd be facing once we got back on the field."

When the players returned, Cain walked around the turf trying to gauge the damage done and the effect it would have for the remainder of the game.

"If you play golf at all, you'd know what I'm talking about when I say I saw the biggest divots ever on the playing surface. They were enormous," said Cain. "There was some early wear form our first quarter play, but once the rain soaked in, a huge swath of mud would appear anywhere a player walked. Every time a play was run, I'd see the holes get larger."

The maintenance staff at Soldier Field went out with buckets of sand every time play was halted in a vain attempt to normalize the conditions.

"It looked kind of strange," Cain said. "A play would conclude and I'd see these guys in big yellow boots stomping all over the grass. At first I was thinking they were just trying to push the grass back into place, but it turned out that they were trying to soak up some water with sand. Amazingly, it was pretty effective."

Effective enough to make his job easy?

"No. Not by a long shot. "

As the rain ebbed and flowed and the winds picked up, Cain realized that he had to adjust his snap for the gusts.

"There are two factors, really," he said. "First, the ball was slippery, not soaking wet but definitely not dry or easy to hold on to. Then the wind. What Robbie and I decided on was to wait as long as we possibly could until there was a small respite in the intensity of the wind. Trying to predict wind direction was a lost cause but we were trying to get things as much in our favor as we could."

Cain found that angling his body slightly into the wind gave the ball the correct angle to reach Gould safely.

"Again, like aiming a chip shot in golf," he said. "Hey, it worked."

The strategy worked on both of Gould's field goals, a 46-yard to end the first half and the all-important final score.

Cain has played in 81 NFL games but said he's never faced a challenge like that on Sunday.

"I've been in some tough games but this was the topper. Everybody knows what a great player Robbie has been. I sure didn't want it to come down on me for blowing his chance win this game."


Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.

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