Final Score: Bears 17, Steelers 14
After Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed missed not one but two field goals in the fourth quarter, Gould split the uprights from 44 yards out with only 15 seconds left on the clock in the final period to steal a 17-14 victory. Following last week's four-interception mess at Green Bay, Jay Cutler was very efficient throwing the football and put his team in position to win it in the end with a 27-of-38 performance through the air. The Pro Bowl signal caller did it all with little help from Matt Forte and the running game, as the second-year pro could only muster 29 yards on 13 carries against an unyielding Steelers front seven.
While they did allow him to put together an impressive 14-of-18 display in the first half, the Chicago defense really clamped down on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and held him to 9 completions on his 17 after-intermission attempts. Just like Forte, Willie Parker couldn't get anything going on the ground with just 47 yards on 14 rushes, plus the Bears slowed down the wide receiver tandem of Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes and kept both of them out of the end zone – although Holmes let a potential dagger graze off his fingertips in the back-left corner of TD territory.
It's impossible to understate just how big Sunday's victory is for this team, a win that evened the record at 1-1 instead of dropping it to 0-2, and now the Bears are off to face a Seattle squad in Week 3 that could be without Matt Hasselbeck.
3rd Quarter Update: Steelers 14, Bears 7
Niles West High School product Rashard Mendenhall put the Steelers in position to reclaim the lead in the third period, first turning an innocent dump pass into an east-and-west 13-yard reception and then busting off a 39-yard run before being pushed out of bounds by Kevin Payne. One play later, Ben Roethlisberger ran a bootleg keeper off play action and dove into the end zone from 2 yards out for the Pittsburgh TD.
While both starting wide receivers, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett have been awfully quiet from start to finish, rookie Johnny Knox continues to make some noise in the absence of Devin Aromashodu. Not only has he caught 3 passes for 51 yards and brought an element of speed to the huddle that has been lacking in recent years, but he has also taken over for Danieal Manning as the primary kick returner. Knox ripped off a long return after the Roethlisberger touchdown, only to see it get called back because of a holding penalty.
With only 15 minutes remaining on the game clock, the Bears have some work to do against the defending champs on the wrong end of a 14-7 score.
2nd Quarter Update: Bears 7, Steelers 7
Bears fans were hoping that the offense would get into a little more of a rhythm after a poor display in the season opener at Green Bay seven days ago, but a receiving corps that has taken a lot of heat isn't doing much to help itself thus far. While Jay Cutler has been fairly accurate throwing the football, Devin Hester, Greg Olsen, Kellen Davis and Adrian Peterson have all dropped passes that hit them right in the hands – granted, Olsen got separated from the pigskin thanks to a big-time hit from safety Tyrone Carter. Cutler did manage to put together a 97-yard touchdown drive just before intermisstion, finishing it off with a 6-yard TD toss to Davis to tie the game.
Defensively, even though Ben Roethlisberger has had all kinds of time to throw in the pocket and completed 14 of his 18 throws through the first 30 minutes, the Bears did keep the Steelers off the scoreboard in the second period. Charles Tillman has not been rotating in and out of the lineup like he did a week ago against the Packers, and he delivered the first Chicago takeaway of the 2009 season with an interception of a Roethlisberger floater near the goal line. Although the combo of Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes has proven to be tough to cover, racking up 7 catches for 97 yards thus far.
Lovie Smith and Co. are fortunate to be all tied up 7-7, as they've been dominated on both sides of the ball in their own back yard.
1st Quarter Update: Steelers 7, Bears 0
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasted little time, engineering an impressive 92-yard drive in 13 plays and taking 8:03 off the clock on his first possession of the game. Going for it on fourth down from the shadow of the goal line, Roethlisberger hit backup tight end Matt Spaeth in the back of the end zone on a play-action bootleg for the score. So much for the Steelers worrying about their running game, as Willie Parker was rather ineffective on the march: 4 carries for 8 yards.
On the other side of the football, Jay Cutler couldn't get anything going in the first frame and watched from the sideline as Brad Maynard punted the ball away after a pair of three-and-outs. Matt Forte continues to search for running lanes, as he did a week ago in Green Bay, accumulating only 3 yards on 2 attempts. Devin Hester delivered one of his signature sideline-to-sideline efforts after catching a quick screen pass from Cutler, although all that effort only resulted in a gain of 2 yards.
After 15 minutes of action along Lake Michigan, the Super Bowl champions look like, well, the Super Bowl champions and lead the Bears 7-0.
Pregame Notes: Champs Calling in Week 2
Shiny new quarterback Jay Cutler had a nightmare of a debut against the Packers, throwing four INTs during the game and then having to face heavy criticism for his behavior during the postgame press conference. But the organization from top to bottom reiterated unwavering support of its strong-armed signal caller, most emphatically by his usually reserved offensive coordinator, Ron Turner. While he won't have to worry about Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh's play-making safety who is out of action with a knee injury, the Steelers bring a ton of pressure with their 3-4 scheme and feature the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in linebacker James Harrison.
On the other side of the football, former Defensive Player of the Year Brian Urlacher is out for the remainder of the season after sustaining a wrist injury at Lambeau Field, leaving the savvy Hunter Hillenmeyer to man the middle for the Midway Monsters. New D-line coach Rod Marinelli got a solid effort from his front four in Week 1, including two sacks from Adewale Ogunleye, but taking down Ben Roethlisberger is a tough task even if he does have a porous offensive line protecting him. Neither team ran the ball particularly well last week, so the battle between Matt Forte and Willie Parker at the tailback position will also be worth watching.
The Steelers are in the Windy City for the first time since 1995 and brought the Vince Lombardi Trophy with them, so sit back, relax and let Bear Report tell you what's really going on from inside the Soldier Field press box.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
JC's Gameday Blog: Steelers vs. Bears
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