The Chicago Bears jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead, then withstood a Pittsburgh second half rally by making two huge fourth quarter plays en route to a 40-23 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Sunday night. The Bears remain unbeaten at 3-0, and drop Pittsburgh to 0-3.
Bears head coach Marc Trestman was proud of his team’s effort. “It was a tough game against a tough team, but the guys did what they had to do to win the game.”
Hanging on to a 27-23 lead after a Steeler field goal, the Bears offense, behind quarterback Jay Cutler marched downfield.Cutler picked up a key first down with his feet, scrambling and delivering a shoulder to a Steelers defender rather than sliding. Later, Cutler lofted a perfectly thrown pass to WR Earl Bennett in the corner of the endzone. Bennett made a sliding catch, tapping one toe then dragging the other foot. Originally called out of bounds, the Bears challenged and the review ruled a catch to give Chicago some breathing room at 34-23. Cutler finished an efficient 20-of-30 for 159 yards as the Bears eschewed the deep passing game in an effort to counter the Steelers pass rush.
Afterwards, Cutler said he could play better. “It was a good win against a tough defense, but I have to play better. Just a little off tonight. We have to learn to keep the gas on.”
On the ensuing Pittsburgh possession, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, under pressure, had the ball stripped by Bears LB Lance Briggs. DE Julius Peppers picked up the loose ball on the bounce and returned it 42-yards for the icing on the cake.
The Bears got off to a quick start, taking advantage of Pittsburgh turnovers. A Robbie Gould 47-yard field goal, followed by short runs of 5 and 1 yards from Matt Forte and Michael Bush opened up a 17-0 Bears lead. The advantage grew to 24-3 when Chicago safety Major Wright intercepted Roethlisberger and took it back 38-yards for the score.
The Bears were outgained, 459 to 258 yards, but forced five turnovers and collected three sacks. Peppers and newcomer D. J. Williams were more active, each flashing at times.
Pittsburgh rallied in the second half behind Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown. Brown caught nine balls for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears take their first place NFC North record up to Detroit to face the rejuvenated Lions next Sunday.
Bears Tracks: DT Henry Melton left on a cart with what could be a serious knee injury. Trestman said Melton was still receiving medical attention after the game, never a good sign. A long-term injury will adversely affect the Bears depth at DT….CB Charles Tillman missed the fourth quarter with a groin injury. He could have returned but the coaching staff erred on the side of caution….Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker dialed up the blitz frequently with some results. The pass rush from the front four is still pause for concern.