Turning Point: Poor Execution in all Phases

All phases of the game failed the Bears against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Questionable decisions by the coaching staff coupled with poor performance by the players led to a 21-9 defeat and the end of an eight-game winning streak.

The Steelers marched down the field on their first possession thanks to a 45-yard screen pass from QB Ben Roethlisberger to RB Willie Parker. The play set the tone for the day. The Bears had opportunities to bring down Parker, but missed tackles. The same could be said on Hines Ward's 14-yard touchdown pass that he fought through tackles to get into the end zone.

On the ensuing drive, the Bears had a chance to tie the game. With first and goal from the 2-yard line, Thomas Jones was stuffed for a one-yard loss. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner decided to go to the air, but Joey Porter sacked Orton as he turned on a bootleg. The 8-yard loss forced another pass on third down, which sailed over the head of TE Desmond Clark. Instead of tying the game, the Bears had to settle for a field goal.

Jones tried to leap over the line of scrimmage on 3rd and 1, but came up short of the first down.

On the following drive, the game turned in Pittsburgh's favor. Lovie Smith decided to accept a pass interference penalty even though it would have been fourth down. On 3rd and 13, the Steelers went back to the screen with success. Parker avoided several would be tacklers and picked up 16 yards and a deflating first down. Four plays later Pittsburgh was in the end zone for the second time and owned a 14-3 lead.

With Adrian Peterson in the backfield on the ensuing drive, his first attempted touches came on consecutive pass attempts that both went incomplete. He dropped one and the other was a blown up screen pass. It might have made more sense to him warmed up with a hand off. He averaged 5.7 yards per rush coming into the game.

Before the half, the Bears had the ball with a chance to cut into the lead. An illegal contact penalty on Deshea Townsend gave the Bears a fresh set of downs in Pittsburgh territory. Jones gained just one-yard on first down and instead of having another played called the Bears had to burn a timeout. Two incomplete passes led to a punt and no points.

The defense had their worst tackling effort of the year. The Steelers rushed for 190 yards as Bettis ran through defenders and Parker ran around them.

Pittsburgh converted on four 3rd down attempts of 7 yards or longer. Four different times the ball was on the ground and the unit failed to come up with the turnover.

Trailing 21-3 in the third quarter, the Bears had gotten to the Pittsburgh 33. Instead of going for the first down, Smith played it safe when he decided to pooch punt on 4th and 7. The Steelers were ready for the obvious play and the kick resulted in just a 9-yard gain in field position.

A 39-yard run by Bettis swung the field back in Pittsburgh's favor. Even though the drive didn't result in points, the Steelers ran the clock down to the end of the third quarter.

The Bears did chip into the lead on consecutive outstanding catches by Clark and Bernard Berrian. The momentum of a one-yard touchdown run by Jones quickly turned when Robbie Gould hooked his extra point try wide left.

The lead in the NFC North is down to one game with three to play. The Bears can turn things around with a home game against the Falcons, but the execution is going to have to improve in a hurry.


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