The Bears have been looking for a difference maker at the game's most important position for more than half a century, an Jay Cutler finally looked to be that guy Sunday at Soldier Field.
Cutler came through with a big pass to Devin Hester on third down, and Robbie Gould booted a 44-yard field goal with 15 seconds left to lift the Chicago Bears to a 17-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Cutler hit rookie Johnny Knox with the tying touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. After Jeff Reed missed his second field goal of the period, a 43-yarder, Cutler helped set up Gould's winning kick with a 5-yard pass to Hester on third-and-4 at the Steelers' 39 that kept the winning drive going.
Both teams were missing their defensive stars, with Chicago's Brian Urlacher out for the rest of the season with a dislocated right wrist and the Steelers' Troy Polamalu out three to six weeks with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
Cutler, however, came through like a star on a rainy afternoon in which he looked shaky at times and had several passes dropped. Despite all that, his first home game with the Bears (1-1) was a big improvement over his debut.
He finished with 236 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, after being picked off a career-high four times in a season-opening loss at Green Bay. That was enough to beat the defending champions and offset solid performances by Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes.
Roethlisberger threw for 221 yards and Holmes caught five passes for 83, yet Reed's problems in the fourth quarter gave the Bears the opening they needed.
Roethlisberger gave the Steelers (1-1) a 14-7 lead midway through the third quarter when he ran it in from the 2, leaping over a lunging Danieal Manning, after Skokie native and Illinois product Rashard Mendenhall broke off a 39-yard run. After hitting the game-winner in overtime against Tennessee, Reed missed a 38-yard field goal that would have made it a 10-point game early in the fourth.
The Bears quickly responded.
Cutler, whose arrival after a trade with Denver sent expectations in Chicago soaring, hit tight end Greg Olsen on a 29-yard pass to put the ball on the Pittsburgh 23, and finished the drive with a 7-yarder to Knox, who beat Polamalu's fill-in, Tyrone Carter, to tie it 14-14 with 6:21 left, a neat sequence on an ugly afternoon.
There were large seams on the field after it was resodded following back-to-back U2 concerts the previous weekend, a short turnaround that left Bears players singing a familiar tune about the surface at the stadium owned by the Chicago Parks District.
There was a noticeable groan when Olsen slipped trying to make a catch in the end zone on a rain-slicked field late in the second quarter, but the crowd roared a few plays later when Kellen Davis caught a 6-yard pass from Cutler to tie it 7-7 with 19 seconds left in the half.
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