What happened to the defense?

The Steelers today are wondering what's become of their closers -- the NFL's top-rated defense from last season.

Anyone can point to Jeff Reed's two fourth-quarter misses on field goal tries of 38 and 43 as the reason the Steelers lost to the Chicago Bears, 17-14. But the Steelers had a lead in the fourth quarter, 14-7, and their defense allowed drives of 72 yards for a touchdown and 41 yards for the winning field goal with 15 seconds left.

Chicago also scored its first touchdown with 19 seconds left in the second quarter to tie the game 7-7 at halftime.

"That's definitely something we have to work on," said defensive captain James Farrior. "We can't let teams score before the half and at the end of the game, obviously."

Pittsburgh's defense could not close out the Super Bowl, allowing the Arizona Cardinals to come from 13 points behind to take a three-point lead in the fourth quarter before Santonio Holmes caught the game-winner. It would have been the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history had the Cardinals won.

"I feel our defense is good enough," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "When we have the lead, we have to keep the lead. We didn't do that today. We just have to learn from it."

The Steelers, who led the AFC with 51 sacks last season, have just two after two games. Outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, who combined for 27 1/2 sacks last season, have combined for none in 2009.


--Dan Rooney, the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, has attended both of his team's games so far. He returned from Ireland to see them play in Chicago and also came home for the opener against Tennessee. Rooney will remain in Pittsburgh this week for the G-20 summit there. He has some speaking engagements around the summit in Pittsburgh.

--Although they did not blame their loss on the Soldier Field turf, the Steelers were not happy with it. New sod was put down the week before the Bears-Steelers game, and rain helped make things very unsure. Some believe the sloppy conditions caused Jeff Reed to miss both of his fourth-quarter field-goal attempts.

"There's no excuse," said Reed, who claims he did not slip on either try.


--WR Santonio Holmes had a large ice wrap on his injured left wrist Monday. Holmes' wrist was injured when he put his hand on the ground to brace a fall Sunday.

--WR Hines Ward has 14 receptions after two games and 814 for his career.

--PR/KR Stefan Logan fumbled away a kickoff and averaged only 6.0 yards on six punt returns Sunday.

--LB James Farrior, 34, was the best defensive player on the field for the Steelers Sunday and led them with eight solo tackles.

--S Ryan Mundy, on the practice squad as a rookie in 2008, could find himself as the starting strong safety Sunday because of injuries to Troy Polamalu and Tyrone Carter.


PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- Ben Roethlisberger had a good day. He completed 23 of 35 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown of one yard to tight end Matt Spaeth. But his one interception occurred because he was hit as he was throwing. He was sacked twice. And Santonio Holmes dropped three long passes, one with just over three minutes left in the end zone just before Jeff Reed missed his field goal.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Steelers had decent numbers of 105 yards and a 4.8-yard average per carry. But Rashard Mendenhall had 39 of those on one run and they never got into a rhythm on the ground. For the second straight game, they had many more passes (35) than runs (22). Their only rushing touchdown came on a two-yard bootleg by Roethlisberger.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Jay Cutler looked like Sammy Baugh. He completed 27 of 38 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also was sacked just once. His passer rating was 104.7. The Steelers had the top-rated pass defense (and No. 1 overall) in the NFL last season, but it looked nothing like that one on Sunday.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- Chicago managed 43 yards on just 18 carries as they took what the Steelers gave them, which was in the passing game. Matt Forte gained only 29 yards on 13 tries with a long of five. The Steelers have shown in two games that they just won't give much on the ground.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F-plus -- Jeff Reed tried two field goals, both in the fourth quarter, and he missed both of them wide left from 38 and 43 yards. Also, Stefan Logan, kept on the team because of his return ability, averaged only 6.0 yards on six punt returns and lost a fumble on one of his two kickoff returns. Punter Daniel Sepulveda had another good day with a 54.3 gross and 49.7 net on three punts. However, the Steelers punt return team had penalties on three of Chicago's first four punts.

COACHING: C -- Not only could the Steelers not devise a plan to pressure Jay Cutler, they did not do a good job making up for the loss of Troy Polamalu at strong safety. Chicago tight ends killed the defense over the middle. On offense, they have now scored 27 points in two games, and there is no commitment to running the ball.

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