Bears vs Steelers: Takeaways from Chicago's 40-23 Win Against Pittsburgh
The defense once again came alive in critical situations, and the team's five takeaways (two of which were returned for touchdowns) ended up being the difference on the scoreboard.
While the Bears were able to improve their record, there are still some areas of concern.
Here are my five takeaways from the Bears' 40-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jay Cutler Remains Cool Under Pressure
Even though the Bears still held the lead, the Pittsburgh Steelers had just come off a touchdown late in the third quarter by Antonio Brown and a field goal in the fourth quarter to bring them within four points of the Bears. With just under 10 minutes remaining, Cutler helped drive the offense down the field and he hit Earl Bennett in the end zone for a touchdown with just under six minutes remaining.
Cutler finished the game going 20 of 30 for 159 yards and one touchdown. Despite the fact that his numbers do not jump off the page, he made smart decisions, and most importantly he remained calm, cool and collected when his team needed him the most.
The Defense Continues to Take the Ball Away
Despite allowing 459 yards of total offense and 21 first downs, the Bears defense once again showed that they are one of the best in the league at taking away the football.
The first takeaway of the game came off a sack of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from a blitzing D.J. Williams, who forced a fumble that was recovered by James Anderson. The Bears offense was able to capitalize on the takeaway in the ensuing drive with Matt Forte running into the end zone to put the Bears up 10-0.
Roethlisberger was then intercepted by Major Wright in the second quarter, and he returned it for a 38-yard touchdown to put the Bears up 24-3.
Steelers running back Felix Jones was stripped by Wright at the beginning of the second half, and the ball was recovered by Henry Melton.
With the Steelers down 34-23, Lance Briggs forced a fumble out of the hand of Roethlisberger, then landed in Julius Peppers' arms who returned it for a touchdown with less than four minutes to go.
Safety Chris Conte closed out the night with an interception of Roethlisberger with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Much like the defense of last season, the Bears are once again making a name for themselves by not only being able to take the ball away, but by being able to find the end zone.
Matt Forte Continues to Produce
For the second week in a row, Matt Forte ran for over 80 yards and accumulated over 100 yards of total offense.
He finished with 87 yards rushing on 16 carries with one touchdown and also hauled in four passes for 24 yards receiving.
The highlight of Forte's night was a 55-yard run in which he was met at the line of scrimmage, stumbled and was able to maintain his balance before stepping out of bounds on the Pittsburgh five-yard line.
A moment of panic swept over Bears fans when Forte rolled his ankle in the third quarter, but he returned to the field and appeared unaffected by the injury.
Forte has shown the ability in recent weeks to not only be a solid runner, but also a solid receiver and it appears that the sky is the limit for him in this offense.
Key Injuries Could Be a Concern Heading into Week 4
Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton was carted off the field early in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game against the Steelers, and his injury could be a major blow to this defense.
Melton did not return to the field, and the Bears have yet to comment on his status moving forward.
It is never a good thing when a player is carted off. Despite the fact that he has failed to live up to the franchise tag that was placed on him this offseason, his potential loss could have a big impact moving forward.
Along with Melton's injury, cornerback Charles Tillman spent his fair share on the sidelines Sunday evening with what Sunday Night Football's Michele Tafoya described as him "stretching out."
There was no indication of what his injury was, but he did miss time earlier this week, according to ESPNChicago, and was questionable heading into Sunday night's game.
While nothing is definite moving forward, it appears that Melton's injury may be more severe, and if either wind up missing any significant time it could hurt this Bears defense.
D.J. Williams Silences the Critics
After missing the majority of training camp and the preseason, many Bears fans were miffed by the idea of starting veteran D.J. Williams over rookie Jon Bostic.
Bostic provided some highlight reel moments during the preseason, but struggled in various different areas of the game—most notably in pass coverage.
Williams was the logical answer to start at middle linebacker as long as he was healthy. He caught the ire of some fans when he only recorded six tackles through the team's first two games, and at times was virtually a non-factor.
He had a coming out party of sorts on Sunday night as he recorded four tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker used Williams in various different blitz packages, and he was effective all night at getting pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Some fans may still complain about Bostic's lack of playing time, many should start to realize the sort of impact that a veteran like Williams can have.