Steelers-Bears: Jeff Reed, Pittsburgh Fall Victim to Chicago Conditions
Chicago, IL—Last week Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw a horrific four interceptions against a mediocre Green Bay defense. Also last week, Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Jeff Reed was 2-of-2 with a game-winning field goal to beat the Tennessee Titans.
This week, however, all bets were off as it was a new week.
The Pittsburgh Steelers marched into Soldier Field standing with a 1-0 record and titled the reigning Super Bowl champs to play a defeated Bears team from the previous week.
All week long, the hype was, "Cutler threw four interceptions against Green Bay; he won't want to show up for Pittsburgh," and, "Who will be missed more: Troy Polamalu or Brian Urlacher?"
Even though the loss of both defensive players hurt each team, the weather conditions appeared more of a problem.
The conditions at Soldier Field—wet and rainy—weren't welcoming to any team and definitely proved so.
Chicago opened the game with a quick three-and-out before punting to Pittsburgh, pinning them back at their own eight-yard line.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers engineered a 13-play, 92-yard touchdown drive. Roethlisberger was 8-of-9 on the drive and capped it off with a one-yard pass to backup tight end Matt Spaeth for the game's first score.
The Steeler defense held the Bears offense to another three-and-out, forcing them to punt from their own territory yet again.
Pittsburgh took over from its own 42 and began what looked like another scoring drive before Roethlisberger was intercepted by Bears defensive back Charles Tillman at the five-yard line. Roethlisberger was going deep for rookie wideout Mike Wallace but threw short.
Both teams would then trade punts, giving the ball to Chicago at its own three-yard line. Cutler went 6-of-11, resulting in a 97-yard drive capped by a six-yard touchdown pass.
Pittsburgh would take over with 6:56 left in the third quarter after several punts by each team. After a short four-play drive, aided by a 13-yard reception and 39-yard rush by running back Rashard Mendenhall, Roethlisberger bootlegged left and ran two yards for the team's second score.
With 11:42 left in the game, the Steelers had a chance to go up on the Bears by two scores. After a nine-play, 43-yard drive to the Chicago 20-yard line, Jeff Reed, who was 48 for his last 49, missed from 38 yards out.
Cutler and the Bears quickly took advantage of the Pittsburgh mistake by marching 72 yards downfield for the game-tying strike—a seven-yard pass from Cutler to tight end Greg Olsen. Cutler was perfect on the drive, going 8-of-8.
The Steelers began what looked like a patented game-winning Roethlisberger drive. However, four dropped passes—two by Hines Ward and two by Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, including one in the end zone—stalled the effort.
Roethlisberger's decision to go deep to Holmes on 3rd-and-2, rather than getting the first down and killing more clock, led to Jeff Reed's try at redemption. Yet just as it appeared the weather was troubling the hands of wide receivers, it troubled Jeff Reed as well. Reed missed badly from 43 yards out.
Reed's second botched field goal turned into Chicago's 41-yard game-winning drive, ended by Robbie Gould's 44-yard field goal to seal the score at 17-14.
Kick returner Stefan Logan fumbled the following return, ending all slim comeback hopes for the Steelers.
The absence of Troy Polamalu was strongly seen. Backup strong safety Tyrone Carter was overmatched the entire game, mostly blowing coverage.
Carter said that the defense would have to "play by the book" rather than the freelance style adapted when Troy Polamalu is on the starting roster.
The spread offense that Cutler began to run in the second half greatly exploited the hole in the secondary with the missing Polamalu.
More importantly, however, the running game continued to struggle. Willie Parker, who said he was the focus of the running game and would have to step it up, gained a measly 47 yards on 14 carries.
Roethlisberger finished 23-of-35 for 221 yards, a typical performance when the running game racks up more than 100 yards. Ben looked to manage the game well rather than play great like the previous week.
The two missed field goals and dropped touchdown pass by Holmes proved to be the ultimate demise of the Steelers in the game.
I'm sure Mike Tomlin will definitely have a few words to say and then move on to next week to prepare for Cincinnati in a division matchup.
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