By Teresa Varley
The Steelers are used to being the team that has the come-from-behind wins. They have become accustomed to being able to protect a lead, hold off opponents at the end of the game.
Against the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday, they weren't able to do either. The Steelers gave up a 14-7 third quarter lead, allowing the Bears to comeback and score 10 unanswered fourth quarter points, while not being able to muster a late flourish of their own, losing 17-14.
"It was disappointing on our end not finishing," said linebacker LaMarr Woodley. "We didn't go out there and finish on the last drive. It was our mistake. Watching film there were a few things here and there we should have hit that we didn't. All you can do is correct the mistakes and move forward and get ready for Sunday."
Missed opportunities was a common theme, whether is was letting Bears quarterback Jay Cutler escape pressure and get free to convert on third downs or missed field goals by kicker Jeff Reed.
"It's one of those games where it's tough and it's neck and neck," said tackle Max Starks. "One team usually finds a way at the end to kind of pull it out or finish the game. We weren't on that end this week. You would like to say that you would like to be in that position and have it be put in your kicker's legs. It was something that was unfortunate. We had a lot of good plays that put us in position. We just didn't capitalize on some of the opportunities we had."
The Steelers have won their last six games at Paul Brown Stadium, and nine of the last 11 against the Bengals. According to Starks there isn't one defining factor that has led to the success, but rather a mix of things including always being up for a division opponent.
"We go in there knowing it's a division rival and it's the first step in the road," said Starks. "The biggest thing for us is knowing it's a division opponent and just being ready to play and knowing it's going to be a nasty tough game. It's a war of wills when you walk into that stadium. As soon as one team breaks the other one usually the game is over."* *
The Bengals are off to a 1-1 start, but Woodley knows they are just seconds away from being 2-0.
On Sunday the Bengals got their first win of the season when they defeated the Green Bay Packers 31-24 at Lambeau Field. But a week earlier they were on the verge of starting the season off with a win, leading the Denver Broncos 7-6 in the closing seconds. Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley snatched the victory from them when he pulled in a deflected pass for an 87-yard touchdown to give the Broncos a 12-7 win.
"The Bengals should be 2-0 right now," said Woodley. "When you go back and watch highlights of the Denver game, they had the game won. It just came down to the last few seconds. The Bengals are a good team. They lost the first game by a few seconds when they had the game won."