Mr 4th Quarter did it again! This one looked like a blowout early as the Bears coasted to a 17-0 lead in the 1st quarter. They kept control of the game through the 2nd quarter with a 24-3 lead until a roughing the punter penalty gave the Steelers new life with about 7 minutes to go in the half. That Steelers drive ended in a TD and was the start of a 20-3 run that cut the Bears lead to 4 with 10:38 to go in the game.
It was looking dicey for the Bears; Pittsburgh had the momentum, the crowd was going crazy, and Forte got stuffed for no gain on the first two plays of the drive. On third down Cutler scrambled for a first and then lowered his shoulder (throwing) and trucked Steelers safety Robert Golden. It was a risky play and coach Trestman probably wasn’t too happy with it, but it seemed to fire up the Bears and more importantly kept the drive alive. After two plays for -2 yards, Cutler hit Brandon Marshall with a 41-yard bomb which got the Bears into field goal range and seemed to sap the Steelers momentum. Three plays later Cutler hit Earl Bennett in the corner of the end-zone for a pretty TD that put the Bears up 11 and essentially sealed the game. The defense put the game out of the reach on the ensuing Steelers drive when a blitzing Briggs forced a fumble that Peppers caught and ran back 42 yards for a TD.
Cutlers’ 4th quarter heroics saved the game, but it was the defense again that put him in the position to do so. They were far from perfect giving up 406 yards passing to Roethlisberger, but they forced 5 turnovers, two of which were returned for scores. Your not going to lose many games with a +5 turnover differential.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker deserves some credit for adapting to the lack of D-line penetration and calling more blitzes then I can remember seeing in a Bears game since Buddy Ryan was calling the shots. They weren’t always successful and left the middle of the field open for quite a few easy completions, but they kept pressure on Roethlisberger most of the game and at least partially caused 4 of the 5 turnovers. I have to give Trestman some credit as well. After a Lovie-esque botching of a goal-line challenge in the 1st quarter, Trestman had the stones to call for another challenge on Bennett’s 4th quarter TD that was originally ruled incomplete. After review the refs overturned the call giving the Bears an 11 point lead and the rest was history. Nice work by the Bears coaching staff today.
It feels good to be 3-0 but the Bears definitely have room for improvement. They played two very strong quarters tonight (1st & 4th) but were outscored 20-10 in the middle two and seemed to lose focus on both sides of the ball. The running game disappeared after a strong first quarter, the play-calling got very predictable, timeouts again were wasted, and the secondary kept falling for the same Roethlisberger pump fake leaving guys wide open all over the field. On the bright side, the Bears are 3-0, have a two game lead in the North, and haven’t played close to their best football yet. I can’t wait for next week in Detroit.
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