Week 14 Game Recap: Chicago Bears 9, Pittsburgh Steelers 21
What you need to know
The “Monsters of the Midway” came into the “Steel City” with an eight game winning streak and the league’s best defense, despite a struggling offense and a potential quarterback controversy. They left with no answers for their offense, and worse, looked very average on defense. Kyle Orton used his only weapon, Muhsin Muhammad, to the best of his ability, but had a very difficult time navigating the Bears through sloppy field conditions and a second half blizzard at Heinz Field. Orton (17-35, 207, 0 TD, 0 INT) opened up the game by completing two quick passes and led Chicago on a 14 play, 63 yard drive on its next possession for a Robbie Gould field goal. Over the second and third quarters, however, Chicago gained just 76 yards. Down 21-3 to start the fourth quarter, Orton found Bernard Berrian for 43 yards to Pittsburgh’s one and Thomas Jones punched in the Bears only touchdown.
Jones was effective in the first quarter and totaled 72 yards on 14 carries. He had 28 of them in the first quarter with a long of 20. But he had only three rushes for four yards in the second quarter. He just four second half carries and his numbers improved dramatically thanks to a 36 yard scamper up the Bears’ sidelines. But trying to come back from 11 and 18 points the majority of the game afforded little opportunities for Jones in the second half. He had the only Chicago touchdown early in the fourth quarter from one yard out.
Muhammad wasn’t much of a factor in the game overall, but he pieced together a decent game, aided by a strong fourth quarter with the Bears in comeback mode. His eight receptions and 91 yards were tops in the game and Jones added four receptions and 23 yards. No other Bears’ receiver had more than one reception.
The leagues’ best defense allowed Pittsburgh to 363 total yards and 20 first downs. Two of the Steelers’ touchdowns came after several broken tackles and of the 190 rushing yards allowed, 132 of them came during the second half in the snow. The Bears did not record a sack, and could not recover any of the four Steelers’ fumbles.
Since November of 2003, the Steelers were 25-0 when the team rushed for over 100 yards, 0-10 when they did not. The Steelers had lost their last three but after posting 190 rushing yards, including 132 in the second half yesterday, the team improved to 26-0. Willie Parker started and had an efficient first half with 48 yards on 11 carries plus a 45 yard screen reception to set up Pittsburgh’s first touchdown. His 32 yards on their second scoring drive set up Jerome Bettis’ only carry of the first half, a one yard touchdown plunge midway through the second quarter.
When the weather soured, the Steelers put snow tires on the Bus and Bettis rumbled for 100 second half yards and his second touchdown of the game. His runs were vintage Bettis as he plowed through tacklers and cut back with precision, in particular on his 39 yarder late in the third quarter. He helped wrap things up with 43 fourth quarter rushing yards, giving him 101 on the afternoon. The Steelers won the time of possession battle 37 minutes and 19 seconds to 22:14.
With an ailing thumb injury, Ben Roethlisberger was thankful for the light work load as he completed 13 of 20 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown, a 16 yarder to Hines Ward. Ward led the team with three catches and 27 yards, while Parker, Verron Haynes, Cedrick Wilson and Antwaan Randle El had two receptions each for 45, 29, 29 and 28 yards respectively.
The Steelers needed a boost on defense, and enjoyed devouring the Bears inept offense. Poor weather conditions no doubt helped, but with so few weapons for Chicago, the Steelers keyed on limiting Thomas Jones to 72 yards and gave Kyle Orton very little operating space in the pocket. They had three sacks and forced seven punts.
What you ought to know
|QB Kyle Orton, Pass: 17 - 35 - 207 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 8 - 0|
Orton had one of his better games statistically, throwing for 207 yards on 17 completions with no interceptions. But the fact remains that the offense only put up nine points, six of which didn’t come until the fourth quarter, leading to further speculation of a quarterback controversy between him and the now healthy incumbent Rex Grossman. Despite being rattled on occasion the rookie held up well against constant pressure. In addition four dropped passes prevented at least two first downs and the chance for Orton to make something out of nothing. Orton started the game gaining confidence with two quick passes for six and seven yards, but their opening drive fizzled three plays later. Orton helped lead Chicago to a field goal later that quarter with a 16 yard screen to Thomas Jones, a 12 yarder to Muhsin Muhammad and an 11 yard pass to Justin Gage. It took him two quarters to make a second impact, when he aired one out to Brandon Berrian for 43 yards to the Steelers’ one yard line, setting up a Jones touchdown run. Orton padded his stats with 45 yards on their final drive in the fourth quarter.
|RB Thomas Jones, Rush: 14 - 72 - 1, Rec: 4 - 23 - 0 (6 targets)|
Jones had good numbers, 95 total yards and a touchdown, but 56 of his 72 rushing yards came on two plays, both on runs where he cut back to the left sideline, the first for 20 yards in the first quarter, the second for 36 in the third. He had 40 total yards on the Bears first scoring drive to help set up a field goal, but otherwise he had lots of trouble finding any room inside. By the mid-third quarter, the Bears were down 18 points, limiting Jones’ role the rest of the game. His one yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was his seventh of the year, matching his career high set last year.
Johnson had one reception for seven yards on the game's second play.
After averaging 58 rushing yards over the last five games, Peterson had one carry for three yards, and he dropped his only target, a screen pass with plenty of real estate in front of him.
As Chicago’s only real receiving threat, Muhammad took on more targets than the rest of the team combined. He came up strong almost every time the Steelers blitzed with a defensive back, leaving him in single coverage and picked up 55 first half yards and three first downs. In the second half, visibility and traction were so poor; it was hard for him (or any receiver) to get downfield fast enough for Orton to deliver. Muhammad had one drop on third down and 11 yards that would have been good for 13. He added three receptions and 36 yards on the Bears final drive.
Berrian hauled in a 43 yard pass from Orton and glided in the mud into the end zone. He was ruled down at the one.
Gage caught an 11 yard pass in the first quarter.
Wade had a five yard reception.
Clark had the catch of the day when he stretched out over his shoulder to pull in a 27 yard pass with his finger tips and hung on after taking his blows over the middle.
Gould hit a 29 yard field goal in the first quarter, but sliced his extra point attempt wide left.
The Bears were uncharacteristically out-muscled at the line of scrimmage and came up on the short end of collisions most of the day, primarily when Jerome Bettis was on the field. They allowed 190 yards rushing and two Bettis touchdowns, both after having several cracks at bringing him down. They also allowed Pittsburgh to convert half of their 14 third down conversions. Rookie free agent Brandon McGowan, playing for injured safety Mike Green, led the Bears with 11 tackles (nine solos). Lance Briggs also had 11 total tackles; Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman each had ten.
Chicago gave up 173 passing yards, 132 in the first half to Ben Roethlisberger, and couldn’t bring Hines Ward down on a 16 yard pass after three hits before he dove over the goal line. They allowed the Steelers to gain 13.3 yards per completion, and could not recover any of the four Steelers fumbles, three by wide receivers. DE Alex Brown left the game holding his wrist in the second quarter, but he returned on the next series.
Roethlisberger’s injured thumb held up well as he threw less than half of his career high 41 attempts from last week. Facing a very thin pass rush, he had plenty of time to choose one of seven different receivers, and never once had to leave the pocket on the run. His first two completions barely wiped the dust off of his arm. Willie Parker took a screen pass for 45 yards and three plays later, Hines Ward received an end around screen, whereupon he ran the remaining 16 yards for the touchdown. Roethlisberger went three for three on Pittsburgh’s second touchdown drive, including a 16 yard screen to Verron Haynes on third and 13. He again went three for three on their third scoring drive in the third quarter, including two third down conversion passes, one to Antwaan Randle El on third and 14 and another to Quincy Morgan on third and nine. He would attempt just five passes the rest of the game.
Parker looked much better than he had the previous three weeks, finding the holes faster and making swift decisions. He got the Steelers moving fast when he took a screen pass 45 yards to the Bears’ 22 yard line and followed it up with a nine yard run before Hines Ward scored their first touchdown. Parker had four carries for 32 yards on Pittsburgh’s second scoring drive to set up Bettis’ first touchdown. With field conditions worsening, Parker’s footing and speed became handicapped and his numbers took a hit to the tune of ten carries for 20 second half rushing yards. But that was merely circumstantial – Parker’s performance was much improved.
Bettis gave the Steelers a nostalgia feeling as he led the team with 101 yards rushing, gaining all but one of those yards in the second half. He made his usual goal line cameo appearance in the second quarter for his fourth touchdown of the year on a one yard run. But as the field became sloppy due to a third quarter blizzard, the Steelers called on Bettis again to grind out the tough yards and protect an 11 point lead. He responded with 57 third quarter yards, including a long of 36. His second touchdown of the game was a five yard off right tackle run where he broke two tackles before he literally ran over Brian Urlacher into the end zone (think Bo Jackson vs. Brian Bosworth). He added 43 fourth quarter yards and helped the Steelers hold onto the ball for over 37 minutes of game clock. Bettis aggravated a quad injury in the third quarter and was extra banged up by his own admission after the game. Stay tuned for an update on his week 14 status.
Haynes converted a key third down from 13 yards out when he took a screen pass and zigzagged around his blocks, broke two tackles and gained 16 yards for the first down. He also had a 13 yard catch and run on second and 11 plus eight yards rushing.
|RB Dan Kreider, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)|
The fullback had an 11 yard carry in the second quarter and a five yard catch.
Ward was one of seven Steelers’ receivers to split up 13 Roethlisberger completions. His three led the team, but his first one set the tone for the rest of the game. He faked an end around rush and took a WR screen pass from the 16 yard line. He spun off a hard hit inside the ten yard line, broke another tackle at the five, and dragged a third defender across the two with the ball outstretched over the goal line for a touchdown. It was the third game in a row in which he’s scored and fifth touchdown over the last four games.
Randle El saw a little less playing time than usual as he and Cedrick Wilson split time as the number two receiver. Randle El caught a 13 yard slant, fumbled, but Wilson recovered it. He caught a key third down pass with 14 yards to go and picked up 17 when he leaped up to grab a high pass for the first down. He also had 23 punt return yards and one rush for three yards.
Wilson saw more playing time in the conventional offensive formations as he and Antwaan Randle El rotated from the second quarter on. Wilson caught both of his passes in the first half, a 12 yard slant that he fumbled (recovered by Pittsburgh) and a 17 yard catch to put the Steelers in the red zone to help set up Bettis’ first score.
Morgan had a ten yard reception on a third down and nine to help set up Bettis’ second score. He added two kick returns for 38 yards.
Miller dropped a touch catch over his shoulder in the second quarter. It was his only target.
Reed converted all three of his extra point attempts.
The Steelers gave up two big plays to Thomas Jones, a 20 yard run and another for 36, but otherwise held him to 16 yards on his remaining 12 carries. James Farrior led the team with 11 total tackles (seven solo).
The Steelers only concern was Muhsin Muhammad and outside of a late game surge, they held him in check most of the game. The defensive line contained Kyle Orton and two of their three sacks were coverage related, as the Bears didn’t have anyone who could get open aside from Muhammad. Joey Porter, Clark Haggans and Kimo von Oelhoffen had the Pittsburgh sacks. Cornerback Deshea Townsend left the field wobbling after he hit Orton in the back with his helmet. Early reports were a concussion, but trainers were visibly working on his neck. A CT scan came back negative.