The Bears hit the road for the first time in 2013 and did it under the lights and in prime time, facing a desperate 0-2 Pittsburgh Steelers team. There were questions galore about whether the young offensive line would handle Bick LeBeau’s complex zone blitzing scheme in a hostile environment. There were questions about whether Jay Cutler could play under the lights and lead the Bears offense. There were questions about whether Heath Miller’s return could somehow revive the sputtering Steelers offense.
Questions answered. The Bears rolled to a 40-23 win in Pittsburgh behind another stellar defensive effort where they took the ball away 5 times and scored twice.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Jay Cutler goes 20 for 30 for 159 yards with 1 TD and Matt Forte goes for just 87 yards and 1 TD on the ground and the Bears would put up 40 points. It’s really quite simple, actually. The defense took the ball away five times and scored two touchdowns, which were more points than six NFL TEAMS managed to put up.
It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park the entire game. The Bears went up 24-3 behind TD runs by Matt Forte and Michael Bush and Major Wright’s Pick-6. Then a foolish roughing the kicker penalty on Anthony Walters kept the Steelers drive alive and leading to a Ben Roethlisberger TD to Antonio Brown. It put the Steelers on a 20-3 scoring run through the end of the 2nd quarter to the start of the 4th that allowed them to get to within 4 points of the Bears.
The Steelers looked to have the Bears on the ropes, stuffing a couple of Matt Forte runs in the middle of the 4th quarter to force a 3rd and 10. Jay Cutler scrambled for a critical first down, while running over Steelers safety Robert Golden to assure the first down and keep the drive alive. A few plays later, Cutler hit Earl Bennett for a sweet TD pass to open the lead back up before Julius Peppers would seal the deal with a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown.
In the wake of the victory is the potentially serious injury to Henry Melton. Marc Trestman couldn’t elaborate on the extent of the injury, saying he was “under observation,” but Melton was spotted leaving the Bears locker room on crutches. If Melton is out for any period of time, it will hurt an already feeble Bears pass rush and challenge the depth of the defensive line.
Another dark cloud on the win is the night that the Bears allowed Antonio Brown to have. Brown had 9 catches for 196 yards and 2 TD’s. With Calvin Johnson waiting in the wings in Detroit next week, it’s certainly an area for concern.
The 3-0 Bears head to Ford Field next Sunday for a crucial NFC North matchup with the 2-1 Detroit Lions. With the Packers losing at Cincinnati to go 1-2 and the Vikings losing at home to go to 0-3, the Bears currently sit alone atop the division.
The Lions will be looking to pull off a win and earn a tie for division’s best record and by virtue of the tiebreaker, first place in the division. If the Bears can move to 4-0 they’ll put themselves in the driver’s seat in the division at the quarter pole.