By Teresa Varley
A week after winning on a last second field goal, the Steelers lost on Sunday to the Bears when Chicago kicker Robbie Gould connected from 44-yards out with just 20 seconds on the clock. The 17-14 loss evens the Steelers record at 1-1.
The Steelers had an opportunity to win, but kicker Jeff Reed – last week's hero – missed two field goals, including one in the final minutes.
"I hadn't talked to Jeff specifically about why he missed the kicks," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "Of course that is uncharacteristic of him. He just kicked the game-winner last week in overtime. That's kind of what we are used to. It's not what we're used to in terms of what happened today."
The Steelers came out strong to start the game scoring on their first drive, but the Bears scored 10 unanswered points down the stretch to come out victorious.
Ben Roethlisberger was 23 of 35 for 221 yards and a touchdown pass and run. The running game, which managed just 36 combined yards last week, got going with Willie Parker carrying the ball 14 times for 47 yards and Rashard Mendenhall three carries for 39 yards.
"I am not overly concerned about what is said or written about our running game," said Tomlin. "We are trying to play and play to win. It's obvious Tennessee has a very good front. I think they held somebody down again today. We don't blink. We got a commitment to doing what it is we do and doing it how we do it. The end result was the end result. I am not going to pat myself on the back because we ran for a decent amount of yards today. We lost the football game. I would rather run for no yards and win."
After a strong defensive stand, forcing the Bears to go three-and-out on the opening drive, Roethlisberger and the offense went to work. Parker got the Steelers out of a hole at their own eight-yard line, knocking off five-yard run and Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for an eight-yard gain for a little more breathing room. On first down Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes couldn't connect, and then Parker was hit for a two-yard loss. An unfazed Roethlisberger lined up in the shotgun and on the pump fake found Holmes for a 24-yard reception to move the chains. Heath Miller pulled in a 15-yard grab and it was right back to Holmes for 19 yards. Roethlisberger continued with his hot hand, finding Ward for 13 yards to the Bears nine-yard line. The Bears defense got stingy near the goal line, holding Parker to a two-yard gain and stopping Miller and Mewelde Moore short of the goal line on consecutive three-yard receptions. Facing fourth-and-one from the one-yard line the Steelers didn't back down and Roethlisberger hit pay dirt with a one-yard toss to tight end Matt Spaeth, capping the 13 play, 92 yard drive to put the Steelers up 7-0.
It was more of the same from the defense on the Bears next drive, swarming to shut the Bears down. Jay Cutler completed a six-yard pass to Greg Olsen, but that would be about it for the Bears. Keyaron Fox hit Matt Forte after just a one-yard gain and Lawrence Timmons broke-up a pass to Olsen, forcing another three-and-out.
The ground game got rolling with two 12-yard carries by Parker, and Roethlisberger continued to click, hitting a wide open Ward for 21 yards and his 10th straight completion. That streak came to a quick end on the next play when Roethlisberger looked for Mike Wallace, but was short and cornerback Charles Tillman came up with the interception.
The Bears got their first first down of the game with an 11-yard completion to Kellen Davis and Cutler hit Johnny Knox for 13 yards to keep the drive rolling. A holding penalty backed the Bears up to their own 30-yard line and the defense once again stepped up, forcing the Bears to punt for the third time in as many drives.
Rain started to fall during the Steelers next drive, making it tough going for the offense. Roethlisberger was able to convert one third down with a 10-yard completion to Holmes, but on the next set of downs he wasn't able to get the ball in Holmes' hands and they were forced to punt. Dan Sepulveda booted it deep and rookie Joe Burnett downed the ball on the Bears three-yard line, with a long field ahead of them.
The Bears got out of trouble when James Harrison was called for roughing the passer for a hit on Cutler. Adrian Peterson got in gear for a 15-yard gain and Knox took a short pass reception 22 yards to the Steelers 45-yard line, the Bears first time across midfield. Tyrone Carter, starting for the injured Troy Polamalu, knocked the ball out of Olsen's hands on what would have been a first down, leaving both players wobbly. Cutler missed Knox on a completion, but Lawrence Timmons was flagged for defensive holding giving the Bears a first down. Cutler found Knox who took it 16 yards before Ryan Clark knocked him out of bounds and then hit Peterson for seven yards to the 10-yard line. Carter returned to the game in time to sack Cutler at the six-yard line, but he wasn't down for long. On the next play Cutler hit Davis for a six-yard scoring strike to tie the game at 7-7 at the half.
The second half started rocky for the Steelers, going three and out on their first drive. The defense returned the favor, stopping the Bears and giving the offense the ball right back. Parker fought for two yards and Moore stretched it out for eight yards to give the Steelers a first down. Roethlisberger was able to find Spaeth for an eight yard gain, but was sacked by Alex Brown for a nine-yard loss, forcing another punt.
The third time was a charm for the Steelers though as they kicked it into overdrive on their next possession. Mendenhall looked like he was going to be hit for a loss when he fell after a short reception, but he was able to regain his footing and reverse direction for a 13-yard gain. Mendenhall was stopped for no gain on the following play, but Mark Anderson was called for unnecessary roughness after shoving Miller from behind. Mendenhall broke free for a 39-yard gain before he was dragged down by Kevin Payne at the two-yard line. Roethlisberger took it himself on a bootleg around the left side for the two-yard touchdown, putting the Steelers back on top 14-7.
The defense was able to hold the Bears again, but this time the Steelers weren't able to come away with points, despite driving deep into Chicago territory. Brown hit Parker for a one-yard loss at the Bears 11-yard line and then got his second sack of the game, knocking Roethlisberger for a nine-yard loss on third down. The Steelers were forced to go for a field goal, but Jeff Reed's 38-yard attempt went wide left.
Cutler took advantage of the missed field goal, completing six of seven passes on the ensuing draft, including a seven-yard touchdown pass to Knox to tie the game at 14-14.
The Steelers took over with 6:15 on the clock and a comeback on their mind. Roethlisberger found Ward for consecutive completions and Moore broke a 15-yard run. They were able to move it to the Bears 25-yard line, but for the second time Reed's field goal, a 43-yard attempt, sailed wide left.
And it would be the Bears who would have the last second heroics. Cutler drove the Bears down to the 26-yard line, and Gould came on to kick the game-winning field goal from 44 yards out for the 17-14 win.