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The Bears' final rushing numbers (28 attempts, 107 yards, two touchdowns) look slightly above average, but the club had three impact plays on the ground that cannot be overlooked. Matt Forte's finest run of the season occurred in the first quarter when he rumbled 55 yards to the Steelers' 5-yard line, this despite getting hit by several Pittsburgh defenders on the play. After Forte set the table, Michael Bush finished the drive off with a gritty second-effort 1-yard touchdown run on fourth and 1. Quarterback Jay Cutler then got into the act in the fourth quarter when he lowered his shoulder and blasted a Steelers defender to gain 13 yards and pick up a critical third down. Bottom line: the Bears were successful on the ground when it counted.
Again, Cutler's passing statistics are pedestrian (20-for-30, 159 yards and one touchdown), but he delivered on a pair of huge throws late in the game to seal the victory. On third down, Cutler aired it out down the Bears' sideline to favorite target Brandon Marshall, who hauled in a 41-yard reception. On a later third down, Cutler found Earl Bennett in the back corner of the end zone for a beautiful, over-the-shoulder 17-yard touchdown completion to effectively end the game. Cutler did not turn the ball over and finished with a 90.8 quarterback rating. The QB was accurate for the most part and went 8-for-10 on the Bears' opening drive.
The Steelers tallied a modest 80 rushing yards on 21 carries (3.8 yards average). One of the Bears' three forced fumbles happened when safety Major Wright jarred the ball loose from Steelers tailback Felix Jones. The Bears surrendered a 25-yard run, but Pittsburgh never threatened the Bears' defense with running the football. Linebackers Lane Briggs, D.J. Williams and James Anderson all chipped in with tackles-for-losses.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for 406 yards, while wide receiver Antonio Brown caught nine passes for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Bears gave up significant yardage through the air and failed to make a play on a couple of deep balls. The saving grace for the Bears' defense: turnovers. Chris Conte and Wright both had interceptions, and Wright returned his pick 38 yards for a touchdown. The Bears pass rush seemed to improve, but Roethlisberger, behind a terrible offense line, was sacked only three times in 41 passing attempts.
Kicker Robbie Gould and punter Adam Podlesh each had positive moments in the game. The Steelers were unable to generate much offense on returns, but neither did the Bears. Pittsburgh made an effort to kick away from Devin Hester during points of the game and put the ball in the hands of Joe Anderson or Eric Weems. Safety Anthony Walters committed a costly roughing the punter penalty that gave the Steelers new life on a drive in the second quarter that ultimately ended with a Pittsburgh touchdown.
Marc Trestman made a curious decision to not challenge an apparent Bears' first-quarter touchdown run the officials ruled short of the goal line. But he made up for it when he threw the red flag for the officials to take a closer look at the Bennett fourth-quarter touchdown grab that initially was ruled incomplete. Trestman seems like a genius compared to Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and therefore gets a slightly higher grade than he deserves. But the Bears are 3-0 for the first time since 2010, and teams that begin seasons 3-0 rarely fail to reach the postseason. The Bears coaches are doing something right.