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Sunday, September 22, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Bears 40, Steelers 23

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com


PITTSBURGH -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 40-23 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers:

What it means: The Bears sit alone atop the NFC North and start 3-0 for the just the second time since 2006.

Stock watch: Jay Cutler put on a gritty performance down the stretch. Cutler threw for just 159 yards and faced more pressure in this outing than he had in the two previous combined. Still, he completed 67 percent of his passes, took care of the ball and made clutch plays late.

Three for 3-0: The Bears captured division titles in each of the past three seasons in which they started 3-0, dating back to 1990, while also winning at least 11 regular-season contests in those seasons.

Scoring D: The Bears scored 24 points off turnovers, including a 42-yard Julius Peppers fumble return for TD and a 38-yard interception return by Major Wright. Wright’s interception return marked the second consecutive game in which the Bears recorded a pick-six.

Tim Jennings scored on an interception in Chicago’s win last week over the Minnesota Vikings.

Just last season, the Bears racked up eight interception return TDs to tie the 1998 Seahawks for second most in NFL history. This season, Chicago is already a quarter of the way there.

Williams contributes: Rookie Jonathan Bostic developed into the favorite to start at middle linebacker because of his play during training camp, but veteran D.J. Williams showed why the staff prefers him in the middle of the defense.

Williams logged two sacks of Ben Roethlisberger, including one on which he stripped the quarterback with James Anderson recovering at the Pittsburgh 17. That turnover led to a Matt Forte TD.

Explosive plays still an issue: Entering the game, the Bears had surrendered eight completions of 20 yards or more, including two of 40-plus yards. In the second quarter alone, the Bears gave up two more long balls (gains of 45 and 33 yards) to Antonio Brown, who snagged a difficult 33-yard TD with 6:27 left in the first half. Roethlisberger also hit a 32-yard completion, a 22-yarder and a 26-yarder before finding Brown for a 21-yard TD with 1:57 left in the third quarter. Roethlisberger also made a 21-yard connection and 27-yarder in the fourth quarter.

This is a problem.

What’s next: The Bears take Monday off before beginning preparations Wednesday for yet another road matchup, this time at Detroit on Sunday.