Bears ride Howard’s legs to OT win over Steelers

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Bears Soldier Field photo
In a wild back-and-forth game with several bizarre twists, Jordan Howard’s 19-yard touchdown run in overtime gave the Chicago Bears an uplifting 23-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. The Bears notched their first win in three games while the Steelers lost for the first time in three contests.

Howard played a huge role in the Chicago win. He rushed for 138 of the Bears 220 yard rushing total, displaying the toughness and tackle-breaking ability he flashed during his 2016 rookie season. Playing with a tender shoulder, Howard was forced from the action three times during the game but returned each time, using his patience and vision to frustrate Steeler defenders by allowing blocks to develop before authoritatively hitting the hole.

“You always dream about stuff like that but it never happens so it was real crazy,” remarked the second-year pro from Indiana.  “Definitely, it was a very wacky game but through everything that happened we found a way to win.”

Howard was joined in tandem by rookie scatback Tarik Cohen, whose electrifying 36-yard run set up Chicago deep in Pittsburgh territory on the penultimate drive. Cohen appeared to end the game with a dazzling burst of speed, cutback ability, and instincts on a breathtaking 73-yard scamper, but was instead ruled out-of-bounds at the Steeler 37.

The Bears held a 17-7 halftime lead, which included rookie TE Adam Shaheen’s first touchdown catch, a wide-open 2-yard reception.  Chicago could have been up more at the break, but in a boneheaded move, Bears CB Marcus Cooper was stripped of the football after racing down the field following a block of Pittsburgh’s field goal attempt. Cooper began slowing at the 10-yard line and had the ball knocked away from him just shy of the goal line. The Steelers ended up batting the ball out of the endzone and after a lengthy conversation, officials ruled the Bears ball at the Pittsburgh 1 for an untimed play before the half.  The Bears settled for a 24-yard Connor Barth field goal after a false start penalty.

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Regarding his gaffe, Cooper stated, “It was just a mistake on my part.  I didn’t think he was that close to me and slowed down and the guy made a great play.”

The Bears won despite a lethargic passing attack. Mike Glennon was 15-of-22 for just 101-yards, checking down frequently to avoid mistakes. Glennon was again plagued by dropped passes, and on

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ly one Bears receiver caught a ball. Too often though, Glennon appeared tentative in pulling the trigger, preferring to throw underneath the coverage rather than challenging the Steelers secondary.

Defensively, Chicago gave up yardage but turned in several key stops, buoyed by strong efforts by a maligned deep patrol. Kyle Fuller, Cooper, and veteran Prince Amukamara, active for the first time, each turned in fine plays to turn away Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.

There’s little time to celebrate the win though, as the Bears face a short work week before heading north to play Green Bay at Lambeau Field Thursday evening.

Bear Tracks: Besides Amukamara, the Bears welcomed back G Kyle Long and WR Markus Wheaton. Wheaton dropped two passes in his Chicago debut…..The Bears have won 13 consecutive coin flips…..Barth missed a 47-yard field goal attempt following a strip/sack of Roethlisberger by Chicago DB Bryce Callahan….Cohen ran for 78 yards on 12 carries….Unofficially, Danny Trevathan’s 10 tackles topped Bears defensive statistics….Valuable special teamer Sherrick McManis factored in on two key plays. McManis recovered a fumble after Steelers punt returner Eli Rogers muffed a catch, and later blocked the 35-yard field goal attempt….The game was played in summer-like conditions with sun-drenched skies and temperatures touching 90 degrees.

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