The Steelers entered Week 2 as one of just 8 NFL teams with a 2-0 record. Facing the winless Bears on the road in Chicago was the perfect recipe for a trap game. And the team responded in true “Steelers are heavily favored on the road” fashion, by playing down to their opponent.
The Steelers came out with a deep shot for Bryant but it was just off his fingertips. The offense couldn’t get a first down but the Bears also went 3-and-out. Unfortunately, Eli Rogers completely muffed fielding the punt and it went right through his arms and the Bears recovered.
Just like that, we went from Martavis barely missing a deep ball and possibly being up 7-0 to the Bears getting a gifted turnover and having field position. Mike Glennon didn’t even need to throw as Jordan Howard carved apart the defense on the ground and got in for the early score.
After a bad run of facing 3rd and longs last week, the Steelers got into third and short and converted when Ben and AB improvised. Unfortunartely, they found themselves back in 3rd and long on the next set of downs and Ben got strip-sacked. Ramon Foster went off on the play with an arm injury also.
Two turnovers in two drives is not how you script an NFL road game. Luckily, the Bears missed a long field goal.
The Steelers couldn’t do anything with the ball and opted to punt rather than go for it on 4th and 1 at their own 46.
The teams traded penalties on the next drive as Cam Heyward got called for roughing the passer which nullified a third down stand. The Bears subsequently took an illegal block penalty and Anthony Chickillo recorded his third sack of the season (surpassing his career high of 2.5).
The offense went to the no huddle and finally started to get things rolling. They tried a unique approach of having successful plays on first and second downs so they didn’t even have to attept a third down conversion until they were in Bears territory. Ben was working the ball to Antonio Brown, which is always a good decision. Brown is like the 7-11 of the Steelers offense.
Terrell Watson converted a third and short at the edge of the red zone, then AB did most of the work from there. On second and goal, Ben hit AB with a quick throw against off-coverage and AB beat his guy 1-on-1 and extended the ball across the plane.
The Bears kept working the outside zone with Howard and Tarik Cohen and gashed the Steelers defense. After a strange decision by Tomlin to take an illegal motion penalty to put the Bears in 2nd and 16 rather than 3rd and 11, Glennon hit TE Zach Miller down the seam for a big 17-yard gain that put them on the edge of the red zone. Two runs by Howard got them to the doorstep then Glennon floated one to a wide open tight end for the score. The Steelers linebackers whole drive, in a nutshell:
Ben got it back with 45 seconds left and was able to hit Martavis then find AB twice to quickly move the Steelers into field goal range. 35 yarder to end the half for the Wizard of Boz, no sweat, right?
Nope! Both end blockers on the field goal team totally whiff and Sherrick McManis flew in and blocked the field goal with the ball bouncing right to Marcus Cooper who came off the other side unblocked. Cooper took off for the end zone and it was shades of the 2011 game in Houston where the Texans blocked a last-second field goal and had a clear path to the end zone. (Sidenote: that return got nullified by an illegal block in the back penalty behind the play.)
As Cooper raced for the end zone, he slowed up as he approached the goal line, allowing Vance McDonald to run him down from behind and knock the ball out. In the ensuing scrum in the end zone, Jordan Berry batted the ball out of the back of the end zone.
The refs took some time to sort things out but ended up making the right call. The ball was out before the runner crossed the plane. With under 2 minutes to go, the offense is not allowed to advance a forward fumble unless the fumbling player recovers it. Therefore, the ball went back to the spot of the fumble with the “illegal bat” on Berry penalty enforced as the half can not end on a defensive penalty.
The Bears lined up to go for it on the untimed down from the 1 but after a false start oped to kick a field goal to send the Steelers into halftime with a 17-7 deficit.
The second half got off to a relatively boring start before Ryan Shazier ripped the ball away from Jordan Howard and gell on the fumble. Replay upheld it and gave the Steelers the ball in the red zone.
Ben went vintage on 3rd and 6 and used his own legs to pick up the first down inside the 10. Le’Veon got us to the 1 and we fortunately got a new set of downs when AB drew a penalty in the end zone. From there, Le’Veon pounded it in.
The Steelers defense continued their absolutely awful display of tackling that was prevalent all afternoon. The Bears drove the ball for nearly 7 minutes to end the quarter and the Steelers missed routine tackles that gave the Bears extra yardage and pick up first downs.
The defense finally came up with a stop thanks to a Javon Hargrave sack and a holding penalty that knocked the Bears out of field goal range.
The Steelers were able to drive the ball back to midfield but couldn’t convert a 3rd and 3. Ben got sacked on a play where a conversion would’ve gotten them to the edge of field goal range. The defense bailed out the offense once again as Glennon badly underthrew a pass and JJ Wilcox made a diving interception.
The Steelers got the ball on the edge of the red zone and were able to get to a 3rd and short but rather than taking the easy pass to move the chains, Ben went for the jugular on a post to Bryant which was broken up. Boz came on and tied the game.
The teams exchanged 3-and-outs with the Steelers dodging a bullet when a holding penalty was called that wiped out a big return by Tarik Cohen. The Bears took over at their own 9 and got themselves into 3rd and 5 when Tomlin opted to use his first timeout. This was yet another in the string of horrendously bad clock management decisions because the Bears would’ve had to run a play before the Two Minute Warning anyways.
The Bears converted and were able to run another play before the Two Minute Warning. After the break, they tried three times to give the game away but the Steelers weren’t having it. The Bears committed 2 fumbles and Mike Mitchell dropped an interception.
I’ve been watching football a long time and usually when you miss a turnover opportunity in the waning moments of a game, it comes back to bite you.
The Bears drive fizzled out and they punted with a minute to go. The Steelers got it on their own 15 with only one timeout. It wasn’t enough to get them down the field and a sack of Ben ended regulation.
The Bears won the toss and took the ball.
In overtime, referee Clete Blakeman transformed into Walder Frey and sat idly by while the Steelers defense got Red Wedding’d by the Bears offensive line.
They nearly ended it on the second play from scrimmage when Tarik Cohen took a carry around the right end and half of the Steelers defense got blatantly held. He took it to the house but was somehow called out on the sideline after his heel just barely grazed the chalk. It didn’t matter however. Jordan Howard took over and went around the left end twice – first for 19 yards to put the Bears in field goal range then again for 18 yards to find the end zone and end it.