Defensive Line (C)
I feel bad giving a poor letter grade to a group that most likely lost Henry Melton for the season to a torn ACL. The pass rush is still MIA and there were times when Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer looked like Adrian Peterson. Shea McClellin can’t set the edge and Corey Wootton continues to get close by no cigar awards instead of sacks. Julius Peppers had a TD on a fumble recover, so at least he made the stat sheet.
Hello DJ Williams! Williams made a great impact with a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. That was enough to make Brian Urlacher shed a tear, wishing he could play for Mel Tucker instead of running backwards like he did for most of his career under Lovie Smith. Lance Briggs was really stout and had an awesome tackle for loss. James Anderson continues to look like Free Agent gold.
Antonio Brown had 9 catches for 196 yards and 2 TD’s. I don’t know if that all falls on the cornerbacks, but they take some of the heat. Charles Tillman has a knee. Or is it a groin? Whatever it is, Megatron awaits.
You’d think that a group that accounted for three of the Bears’ five takeaways would have graded out better, but Chris Conte seems lost in coverage at times. He’s being put into a tough position, playing a lot of single high safety as Mel Tucker dials up blitzes to try to get pressure on the quarterback. Major Wright earned the Bears’ game ball honors with a pick-6 and a forced fumble early in the third quarter to at least slow the momentum of the Steelers when they were trying to climb back into the game.
Special Teams (C)
Anthony Walters drags them down a full letter grade and if the Bears had lost somehow, he would have been among the scapegoats. You CANNOT run into the punter protecting a 21 point lead. Period. Robbie Gould had a PAT blocked, the first time that has happened to the Bears since a Kevin Butler PAT was blocked vs the Chiefs back in 1993.
The Bears’ first drive was a thing of beauty, eating up nearly 7 minutes of clock and going 13 plays. It may have only resulted in a FG, but that set the tone for the game. There were a lot of short passes and quick hitters to let everyone get their feet under them. I thought the challenges were mismanaged a bit on the goal to go situation, probably due to a lack of time out. The Earl Bennett challenge was well handled, with Trestman saying it was “unanimous” in the booth to challenge the call. Lovie would have burned a couple of time outs and bungled that call.
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