Sunday, September 22, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Bears 40, Steelers 23
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH -- A few thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 40-23 loss to the Chicago Bears at Heinz Field.
What it means: The Steelers’ season is in critical condition following the team's first 0-3 start since 2000. The Steelers showed a ton of resolve in rallying from an early 24-3 deficit and pulling to within four points of the Bears in the fourth quarter.
But the offense and defense imploded in the final 10 minutes of the game, and the Steelers are again left searching for answers. If the Steelers haven’t bottomed out, it is hard to imagine things getting much worse for the only winless team in the AFC North.
Stock watch: The offense showed marked improvement from the first two weeks, and the defense contained Jay Cutler and the Bears for much of the game. But turnovers on both sides of the ball continue to be a problem.
The Steelers committed five turnovers, two of which the Bears returned for touchdowns. Their defense, meanwhile, has yet to force a turnover in three games. The Steelers are minus-nine in turnover differential. That discrepancy might be the root of their problems.
Prime-time performance: Antonio Brown provided two things that had been in short supply for the Steelers -- big plays and emotion. Brown caught nine passes for a career-high 196 yards and a pair of scores, and the Bears simply could not cover the four-year veteran.
The Steelers wide receiver turned in the play of the game late in the third quarter when he made a spectacular catch in the back-left corner of the end zone. Brown used his right hand to reel in a Roethlisberger pass, and he pulled the ball close to his body as he tumbled out of bounds.
After the touchdown that pulled the Steelers within a touchdown, the JumboTron showed Brown waving his arms as he sat on the sidelines, exhorting a crowd that didn’t have much to cheer about in the first half.
What’s next: It’s hard to imagine worse timing for a league that wants to peddle its product in a country where futbol reigns supreme. The NFL has no choice but to showcase a pair of 0-3 teams next Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium, and either the Steelers or the Minnesota Vikings will have traveled very far to pick up their first win of the season.
The Steelers give the NFL’s latest foray to London a brand name and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson is the best running back on the planet, but the matchup is one between two teams that appear to be going nowhere this season.