I'll just start by saying it. The guys in the locker room are very appreciative of the win. It was a very tough football game, all four quarters of it. There was a lot of emotion spent, a lot of ebb and flow to it. Guys feel very fortunate to have come out on top. A couple of things that I said to the team in the locker room if I can collect myself here, number one, is we took care of the football. That was number one. We took care of it. Our guys went out and got it. We had obviously two scores on defense. We had plus five on the turnovers and on the offensive side, and on the other side on our side, we took care of the football. So we were clean there, which was very important. Number two is we said if we were going to come in here, we not only had to take care of the football, but we had to play disciplined and unselfish football. We were very disciplined tonight with only four penalties. I thought that really helped us. Then finally in the fourth quarter, we were able to hang in there, stay together, play together, and be at our best. I really appreciate the work our players did to get this thing done and our coaches in preparing them to play. It was a very difficult game in a very tough environment to win, and we feel very grateful that we could come out on top here.
What did you feel like you learned about your players tonight?
You know one thing we did is we kept our poise in the noise. That was number one tonight. We wanted to make sure that we had no pre-snap penalties in the game in the noise with our young guys. I think that was a big thing. It wasn't easy to beat a great defensive team to the punch like we did at times tonight, not all, but certainly they had their moments too. It was a tough football team to run the football against but I think no pre-snap penalties, playing in the noise, and being able to overcome the initial surge, and being able to play hard enough in the first quarter to overcome their sense of urgency to win, and have the ability to match ours.
Re: Losing momentum after having a big lead
I think they amped up their game. There were some internal blitzes. We tried to run the ball a little bit. We couldn't do it. We had some second and third and longs, which were very difficult to convert. They played a couple of odd ball coverages, which we were finally able to unlock by getting Brandon Marshall outside on the go route. Just those things that came up. They're a good football team and a really good defense. We just kept trying to keep sawing wood and working to try to make some plays.
Re: Challenging the final touchdown
There was some time there, and we talked about it upstairs, and I said take another look at it. It wasn't even a majority of the guys. It was unanimous that Earl Bennett was inbounds. The guys upstairs did a good job with that.
Re: Jay Cutler's third downs on the final drive
We had three conversions which really helped us. I think he scrambled for one and took a vicious hit right in front of the bench. I was hoping he would slide, but he didn't. I'm just thankful that he got up after taking the shot that he took. The throw to Brandon Marshall was a go route on third down and long. And I'm trying to remember the last one, Bennett on the touchdown. As I said the guys being at our best when our best was needed, that was one of those times certainly. That helped to have Julius take that ball back as well to close it out.
How is Henry Melton?
He's under observation right now. I don't know anything at this time.
Re: The Forte check-down on third down:
It was a shot to the endzone. We had three verticals on to the wide side of the field and Matt Forte was the underneath player. We thought Jay Cutler did a good job. He looked deep and there was nothing there and he kicked it out right at the last second and Matt was able to take it up the field.
Re: Blitzing being the defensive plan
We tried to get after him and tried to get a rush. Ben was exactly the Ben that we thought he would be. We were going to bounce off of him at times. He was going to extend plays and make plays and throw it down the field. And he did. They were able to make some real good explosive plays along the way.
Re: Starting off well as a first year head coach
I haven't really thought about it. Every game is independent of the next. We're just trying to play every game. We're going to go next week and we're going to play one of thirteen and see where we are. We're still in this evolutionary process of trying to find out who we are. Those things came up tonight when the guys came to the sideline and we talked and said we can get better at this. There's things we can structurally to help us get better and get people in the right places. We're kind of a work in process, but it's exciting. But at the same time I know our guys are going to come back on Wednesday and their feet will be on the ground. We'll be focused in on just trying to get better again. There are certainly ways that you can see today in all three phases that we can improve our football team. We'll have a laundry list again next week to get after our guys.
Re: Turnovers gaining momentum.
They're everything in football. It's universal around the league. When you're plus-five, when you're plus-two, you're going to win 80 percent of your games, plus three you generally win them all. We were plus-five so that just shows you. We still felt that in the fourth quarter we were still fighting for the win. We didn't do some things offensively that we certainly want to do. Overall, the guys just kept fighting, and we were fortunate to wind up on top.
Re: Defense consistently performing well:
We've been watching it since the OTA's and the same things happen in practice week in and week out. The thing that's helped us is we've improved as an offense because we have to face our defense every day. We're able to improve. We're able to understand the importance of taking care of the football because they're always trying to knock it out. It's gotten us better and it's unique that we consistently do it on a consistent basis. They just picked up where they left off over the past number of years they've been doing it.
How do you think Jay Cutler handled the second half pressure?
I thought he did a very good job. This could have been a very frustrating night. There were some people in his face. He had to scramble. But we knew going in that it wasn't going to be simple. It wasn't going to be clean on every play, and we tried to give him the quick stuff and get it out of his hands. And at times we took some sevens and it made it tough. The pressure was coming and it was coming from different places each and every time. It was very good defensive game plan.
Can you describe the play that Earl Bennett got in for the touchdown?
We had a good scheme up front blocking-wise. Max up leaving Martellus in. I threw a receiver route. We caught man. We hadn't caught a lot of man up to that point. We played a lot of three zone and played a little two-cut against us. I was happy to see man. I thought I was a tick late on it, but Earl made a heck of a catch in the corner for us.
Was the game plan all along to go for the outside lanes and not go so much in the middle?
Yes, we wanted to go for the outside lanes. In the end when they started coming back we started to play a little more two high taking away some of those outside lanes. They were sitting on some stuff. They got us on a few blitzes. The offensive line handled everything pretty well. Getting up like that we kind of got in a protective football, slow it down mode. Offensively I didn't play that great tonight. We just had to keep our foot on the pedal in the second half and keep calling plays. I have to play better and just try to move the football.
What do you like about this team that may be different than previous Bears' teams?
The guys around me. Offensively, we have some guys who can play football, on the outside bringing Bushrod, Slauson and drafting the two young kids. We still have Garza. Those guys are playing great football, protecting me and making plays on the outside. I was proud of the guys on the outside tonight. They hung in there for me. It wasn't going exactly how we wanted it to go yardage-wise and catch-wise, but when we needed a big one Brandon Marshall went up and got a big one and Earl caught one in the end zone. Third game in this offense I think we are all still learning a little bit, but it's a lot easier to make corrections after a win than after a loss.
What's it like for you to watch the Bears defense force five turnovers and take two to the end zone?
It helps us out. Like I said, we kind of got into a protect the football mode the way they were playing getting takeaways and setting us up. So we just need to look at that and in the second half try and do better on third down. Third quarter we weren't that good on third down I'm sure. We were off the field pretty quickly. The defense held in there and kept us in the ball game.
How difficult is it to go against a Steelers' defense who disguises so much?
They do a great job. We had some blitzes that were different from things we have even seen. They got us a few times. We made the proper corrections, but you have some Hall of Fame players over there. You have a Hall of Fame Defensive Coordinator who has been doing this a long time. They are good. 0-3 they are a hell of a team still. They are going to give some people fits especially in the defense.
Why didn't you slide on that third down run?
I wanted to make sure I had the first down. Whenever you slide usually it goes back to the point at where you start to slide. I just wanted to make sure I picked it up. We were struggling on third down in the second half so I wanted to make sure we kept the drive going. We were up four at that point. So I just wanted to stay on the field and make sure we got another crack at it.
Was it difficult to be patient in this offense?
Yeah it is. It's not something I'm used to. We have been preaching ball security a lot. It was just that type of game to get up that quickly like that. We were sitting pretty good early on and we didn't want to give them anything easy. Especially when they started getting a little momentum. We didn't want to force the ball. We didn't want to give them positioning in our territory. We just wanted to be patient and we caught man there that last play and we were able to get a big one to Earl.
Walk us through your 41-yard catch on the sideline?
Was it 41 yards?
It was tough. It was one of those nights where we had a great start. The Steelers started being the Steelers. Big Ben [Roethlisberger] started doing what he does best and the offense was sputtering a little bit. Really, it's all Jay [Cutler]. Jay threw a 50-yard back shoulder. I've never seen that happen before. The guy's arm is amazing. Jay put it in the right place.
How tough was it to get open looks down the field the way they were bringing pressure?
We really didn't attack them deep. We took a few shots, but our game plan was really to attack the outside lanes, get the ball out quick. They put a lot of pressure on Jay. I think we only gave up one or two sacks. They were in his face all night. We had to adjust our game plan and we got the job done.
You're three weeks in now. How comfortable are you with the offense? How deep is the playbook?
I think it's one of those things where, like Jay, I think there are guys out there who have been in the same system for eight, nine, 10 years. Especially at the quarterback position, Jay is doing a good job of really understanding what Coach Trestman is trying to do. For us, we're just out there running around. You listen to some of these protection meetings, some of these game plan meetings that Jay sits in on, I don't see how he's successful right now. It's tough. There is a lot he is throwing at us, but I think we're doing a great job of really moving the football.
How impressed were you by Earl Bennett's catch?
Yeah, Martellus Bennett came up with a saying in camp, because we've got Marty who we're trying to get the ball to, Matt Forte is going to get his on a weekly basis, Alshon Jeffrey, we're trying to get him the ball a lot, and Marty always says Earl has to have his touches, too. So, tonight when he scored, the whole sideline was saying it. It was good to see Earl finally get that touchdown. We had a word today in chapel and it was about selflessness and Earl epitomized that. You see a guy take a pay cut and you see a guy who is really a great receiver, a really good receiver and he's not getting the ball a lot. For him to keep his head in the game and make that play for us, it's special. It says a lot about his character.
Re: Playing at full strength:
It's continuous. It has only been a month of football. It's the third game of the season. I'm just coming in trying to help the team.
Re: Team's attitude on defense:
It's very contagious. That's all we preach at practice and outside of practice. Not only do we preach taking the ball away but we preach scoring. Whether it's a fumble, we scoop it and run it into the end zone.
What makes Ben Roethlisberger dangerous?
He can extend the play. Nobody can guard a receiver for 10 seconds. He's able to take an average play and run around. It's like we are back on the playground. He just can find guys that are wide open.
How tough was their pressure?
They had the crowd behind them. The momentum was going. They are a good team defensively. Jay Cutler stayed in there and tried to make as many big plays as he could.
Re: Another big fourth quarter for Jay Cutler:
It was great. You can't count us out. You can't count him out. He threw a great ball to Earl Bennett and it was a great catch by Earl.
Re: Composure level the same on the road as at home:
I think it was the same, even with Coach Trestman. I looked at Coach when he was calling the plays. He was showing the same emotions. We practice how we play. We did well in practice this week, and we came out with the win.
What did the pass rush calls do for you guys tonight?
We got good pressure from the pressures we called. It was effective.
Where they breaking down in communication?
I don't know what they were doing to be honest. I know what we did. We rushed all and got some pressure. We had a couple guys get free and we got there a couple times.
Happy with how you guys finished on Ben?
I'm happy. I'm happy with the win.
Re: Cutler's last series:
He came through when we needed him. That's something that coach stresses and preaches. We needed him there and he came through with some big throws. He's been doing it all season and that's who he's become.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.