Bears on Offense: Cutler to Knox
At the snap, Timmons, Gay and Hampton all rush, overloading the right side. Williams picks up Hampton, but Timmons and Gay have a free run at the quarterback. Cutler shuffles back away from the pressure. At the same time, Steelers S Tyrone Carter mans up on Knox but leaves him a 7-yard cushion. Knox runs straight for two yards then breaks hard left down the goal line. Cutler retreats two steps and fires a bullet off his back foot just over the outstretched arms of Timmons. Knox, who now has inside position on Carter, goes up for the ball and pulls down the pass for the game-tying touchdown.
During the pre-snap, the Steelers defense was moving around like a swarm of bees. Only just before the snap do they settle into a formation. This is a typical strategy employed often by Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who uses roaming defenders to confuse the quarterback and does not allow him to get a read on where the pressure is coming from. Cutler's ability to see through the chaos – and not only understand where the blitz was coming from, but recognize the open space behind the blitz – was a highly advanced read and reaction. He then uses the bazooka connected to his neck to fire a pass off his heels to the open receiver. In addition, Knox' recognition of the one-on-one coverage, and his quick break to open space, is one more example of the rookie receiver's rapid development.
Bears on Defense: Brown Sacks Roethlisberger
At the snap, Hillenmeyer and Briggs both blitz. The two linebackers are picked up, as is right defensive tackle Israel Idonije. Brown swings in behind Idonije on a cross move and, because the rest of the linemen are occupied by the blitz, has a free run at the passer. Roethlisberger is only able to drop back a few steps before he is clobbered by Brown. DT Tommie Harris comes around from the other side and finishes off the QB for a 9-yard loss.
Looking back, this was arguably the biggest play of the game. An incomplete pass or short gain would have given Steelers kicker Jeff Reed a field goal of less than 30 yards, which is a chip shot for NFL kickers. Instead, Reed is forced to kick a 38-yarder, which floats wide left at the last second. If the kick is 9 yards closer, it splits the uprights and gives Pittsburgh a momentum-building lead of 10 points. Briggs' blitz from the left side was well disguised and timed perfectly, effectively overloading and confusing the left side of the Steelers' line and allowing Brown a free path to the QB. It was the perfect call at the perfect time, rescuing the Bears from a demoralizing 0-2 start.
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Jeremy Stoltz is the editor-in-chief of The Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report and BearReport.com.
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