Pittsburgh Steelers Versus Chicago Bears – First Half Recap

By Matthew Marczi

The Pittsburgh Steelers take the field tonight looking to get their season on track after dropping their first two games. They get a bit of a boost tonight with the return of Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller, and new center Fernando Velasco has another week in the offense under his belt. Felix Jones has also been given the start at running back tonight over Isaac Redman, while William Gay starts at cornerback for the injured Cortez Allen.

The Steelers won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, putting the defense on the field first. Jay Culter looked for Brandon Marshall on the first play and found him for a catch and run of nine yards. On second and one, Matt Forte carried for four yards for the first down. The next ball was overthrown. A seven-yard pass set up third and three, which was converted by Alshon Jeffery against Ike Taylor to the 48-yard line.

The Bears continued to drive, converting three more first downs, with four catches by Jeffery. On first down, Troy Polamalu read a quick screen and blew it up four yards behind the line of scrimmage, and Gay held the following play to just five yards to set up third and long. The third down pass sailed out of bounds. The Chicago Bears called a timeout prior to that series, and they seemed to stymie their own momentum. Still, they were able to cap the drive with a field goal to take the early lead.

The Steelers took it to the ground on the first play with fullback Will Johnson leading the way, and Felix Jones was able to run for a first down. Heath Miller caught his first pass of the season on the next play for six yards and took a nice shot. However, on second down, Ben Roethlisberger was stripped of the ball and it trickled backward, recovers by the Bears at the 17.

The Steelers limited the Bears to just one yard on the first two plays after the recovery; however, and on third down in a four-wide look, Forte was able to convert to set up first and goal. Forte carried the ball into the end zone on the next play to take a quick 10-0 lead.

The first play after the score was a pass down the field to Miller, which was overthrown. On third and nine, Roethlisberger went deep again, this time to Emmanuel Sanders, who got behind Charles Tillman. The ball was just out of his reach, however, and the Steelers had to punt.

On the very next play, Forte exploited a huge hole for a 55-yard run, assisted by missed tackles by Ryan Clark and Gay, the latter of whom attempted to strip the ball rather than take down the runner. Once again, the Bears had first and goal. Taylor was flagged for pass interference, which put the ball on the one. Michael Bush narrowly came up shy, and Martellus Bennett could not maintain possession in the back of the end zone. The third down run came up short, according to the officials, but the Bears challenged it. Somewhat to my surprise, the call on the field stood, but the Bears punched it in on fourth down anyway to take the 17-0 lead.

Following the score, the Steelers started having some success with a pair of carries by Jones and a reception by Antonio Brown with some yards after the catch. Will Johnson gained five yards on a reception, but on second down, Roethlisberger was kamikazied by linebacker D.J. Williams for the sack to set up yet another third and long. On third and 14, Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown deep down the field to the 15. Roethlisberger got him open by influencing the safeties.

Felix Jones found nine yards, but the second down screen pass lost a couple yards. It should be noted that Marcus Gilbert was benched in favor of Kelvin Beachum at right tackle. On third down, Roethlisberger and Brown failed to hook up on a tough pass that could have set up first and goal. Still, the Steelers finally got on the board with a field goal.

Curtis Brown made the stop at the 7 on the ensuing kickoff. Once again, Vince Williams was in early in place of Kion Wilson, which did not start on this drive. LaMarr Woodley was coming for Cutler on second down, but he got the ball away for a first down. Brett Keisel notched his first sack of the season on the next play, and just the second for the team on the year. On third down and six, a safety blitz forced Cutler to throw the ball away to force a punt.

Kelvin Beachum was moved to left tackle for the next drive with Gilbert returning to right tackle. On the third play of the drive, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Major Wright and returned for a touchdown and a 24-3 lead. It appears Roethlisberger and Jerricho Cotchery may not have been on the same page on the play.

On second and inches, Jonathan Dwyer was blown up in the backfield by an unblocked Lance Briggs for a five-yard loss. David DeCastro, it appears, was supposed to pick him up on a pull. On third down, Roethlisberger eluded pressure, but then could not make the throw to convert a first down, and once again the Steelers called upon Zoltan Mesko. Mesko was hit pretty good, however, and it was called roughing, which resulted in an automatic first down.

After the pardoned drive, Roethlisberger once again was forced to elude heavy pressure, and he found Sanders down the field for a first down, who then took a big hit. Two plays later, Roethlisberger uncorked one from the 40-yard line to the back of the end zone, finding Antonio Brown, who made the adjustment to secure the ball—and his feet—for the score. The Steelers now trailed 24-10.

Vince Williams continued to play on defense, but he exited after the first play for the dime defense once again. William Gay forced a fumble on Alshon Jeffery on second down, but recovered the ball himself. On third and five, Jarvis Jones pressured Cutler, but he was able to escape pressure and get a pass away that should have been caught by Brandon Marshall..

Felix Jones carried for nine yards on first down. On second down, DeCastro  made a big block to help spring Dwyer for a big down near midfield. He was dropped for a loss on the next play, and gained just about the lost yardage on second down. Roethlisberger was nearly sacked on third down, and Markus Wheaton could not secure the first target of his career, which was slightly behind him. Mesko’s punt was poor, with a Bears bounce that left the ball on the 29.

The Bears simply ran out the clock, and the Steelers called a timeout with nine seconds remaining. They failed to block the ensuing punt, however, which took a perfect bounce to run out the clock and send the game into halftime.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • alex

    somebody pull gilbert over,hes sleep walking out there this season…oh, they did…

    tanks!

  • Mike Carroll

    Let’s go Steelers! The season starts this second half.

  • Mike Carroll

    Whadaya know. Sanders turn his back on the end of the play and misses golden oportunity to recover Jone’s fumble.

  • Mkeller

    He needs to focus….no more ping pong for him either.

  • Eric

    Gut the team. Its time to admit we are rebuilding and not reloading.

  • walter mason

    i dont understand why we didnt give Starks a try out. Adams is getting beat.

  • sean mcmartin

    If The Steelers intend to compete next year, They better change their ways and go after good free agents and hit on the draft..
    slight chance they can improve this year. Looks doubtful.

  • Mkeller

    They’re over the cap again next year. They have no money for FAs. To add insult they can’t even afford to cut most of their high salary guys because of all the silly salary restructures needed to get cap compliant the last 3 yrs. they blew it on the cap and are now paralyzed.

  • walter mason

    It looked as if Cotchery never saw the ball on the interception.

  • Mike Carroll

    Note to defense: takeaways are legal! Get one.

  • Jay Jaber

    I’m calling it turn over lol I hope

  • Mkeller

    Seriously. You’d think they would have accidentally fell into 1 by now.

  • walter mason

    Woodley is looking better.

  • Mkeller

    They need to get into the end zone here.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    shoulder to helmet.

  • walter mason

    Got it and we got ‘em right where we want ‘em.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    What’s up with the shuffling on the O-Line?

  • Jay Jaber

    When he caught that I didn’t jump up and down cause I really didn’t think he caught great catch Antonio

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Can we at least watch the rest of the game first?

  • Mike Carroll

    Alright Antonio Brown!!!

  • Mike Carroll

    Let’s go defense!

  • Mkeller

    Turnover time!

  • walter mason

    STOP EM!!!

  • walter mason

    Please no fumbles

  • Mike Carroll

    Let’s go Ben. Time to remind yourself what it’s like to own the fourth quarter!

  • dgh57

    A. Brown having a monster game!!! 6rec for 147yds 2 TDs so far!

  • walter mason

    There’s the fumble but Ben got it back.

  • Mkeller

    AB does the Santonio Holmes gesture with the football after a catch then drops the ball on the ground. Could do without that.

  • Mike Carroll

    That’s a mulligan. But they deserve a bounce once or twice this season.

  • Jay Jaber

    I miss santonio so much. Antonio santonio lol they are the same type of players

  • walter mason

    DeCastro is showing signs of life.

  • Mike Carroll

    He’s alive!

  • Mike Carroll

    C’mon Deeeefense!

  • walter mason

    Cutler rushes for 1st down,…crap

  • Mike Carroll

    Willie Gay!

  • walter mason

    Ike didnt see the ball

  • Mkeller

    Damn it! Back shoulder is almost impossible to stop.

  • Mkeller

    That’s a TD.

  • walter mason

    oh crap a challenge. If we couldve just contained Cutler.

  • walter mason

    a little bobble?

  • Mkeller

    Son of a bitch!!! I know there’s time left but they have stop losing the TO battle. No reason to be losing this game.

  • Mike Carroll

    Need to get a TD back in a hurry. plus 2pt conversion.

  • psteelers

    Wtf this bum

  • Mike Carroll

    Well, that sux.

  • Mkeller

    You have got to be shitting me!!!! Dreadful. Sloppy. Piss poor.

  • walter mason

    You got to admire Polamalu playing his heart out to the very end.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Oh yeah, it’s so obvious Redman is better blocker than Dwyer. He comes in for one play, and his man gets right around him.

  • walter mason

    Yea Redman missed but I wonder if it was his man to block. He came right up the middle didnt he?

  • psteelers

    What kind of meeting are they going to have now? Big doofus never fails. I hope he has to miss a couple games to see what the offense looks like when the qb spot is played with rhythm. He takes a third of his hits because he’s too slow at reading defenses.

  • RG022

    Fire Colbert. He had really mismanaged the cap. We could easily be 6-10 for the next 3 years.

  • Mkeller

    If you can’t win at home in prime time against an out of conference team when can you win? This isn’t an dang we almost had’em type of game. This is a blowout loss at home. Too look for silver linings in this disaster is to acknowledge how bad they are.

  • walter mason

    I think the blocking is poor

  • DoctorNoah

    Well, at least I don’t think you can blame Todd Haley or Mike Tomlinson for that loss. Really comes down to Big Ben fumbling twice, throwing a bad pick. A shame – he did some good things. But when your QB personally turns it over three times, you’re not going to win

  • Mkeller

    Redman’s a good dude but he does not belong in the NFL.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    One word to sum up last season and this season (TURNOVERS)

  • Mike Carroll

    Doesn’t look like Robert Golden belongs either. That was pathetic getting near knocked out by Cutler.

  • walter mason

    keep the pressure on at the ping pong table.

  • Mike Sweeney

    can anyone hear ben saying, it’s on me?

  • psteelers

    Great Ben has over 500 yards passing, however only 379 to steelers teammates. Lord please don’t sign this guy to an big extension

  • psteelers

    Yea we know his routine.

  • Mkeller

    Especially when 2 are returned for TDs and the other is on your own 20 and ends up being 6 pts. Bad teams find ways to lose just like good teams find ways to win. They don’t always do it the same way…they just do it.

  • walter mason

    Tomlin looks worried and he should be.

  • Bell Cow

    Ben gave this game away.

  • walter mason

    Yes but the problem is the blocking. Ben will not curl up and go down like Brady and I wouldnt want him to.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    He looks like a deer caught in headlights. Coach someone up!

  • Mkeller

    Yes he should. Whether its his fault or not…he road this team from the very top to the very bottom. Plenty of blame to go around but ultimately he’s the man in charge.

  • walter mason

    Can we discuss next years draft?

  • Bell Cow

    No shit Sherlock. We all know the line sucks because they have for years. This whole team has problems, but Ben clearly played worse than anybody tonight.

  • walter mason

    Get real. We wouldnt be any better without Ben. I guess you are too young to remember the Mark Malone years lol.

  • Bell Cow

    We are one season ending injury away to Big Ben from being the 2011 Indianapolis Colts? Seriously, think about that …

  • Christopher Wilkes

    I don’t agree with that at all. His 2 fumbles came because of pressure off missed blocks, and his first interception he had a guy right in his face. Turnovers were huge in this game, and he’s definitely at fault for helping this team lose, but played worse then anybody? No way! You want a pivotal point in this game where we lost it, then look to those 3 consecutive 3rd downs we gave up near the end.

  • Bell Cow

    If you don’t think Ben had a horrible game than you’re blind. He was inaccurate, made poor decisions all night, and held the ball like a loaf of bread which led to fumbles.

  • psteelers

    The Ben defenders always bring up our other bad qb’s as if that justify his horrible play. He’s t one of he most overrated qb’s in the league. It’s time to make a nice instead of holding on too long. He’s only won ONE game when the opposing team scores 30+ points since Whiz left. that’s not a top notch qb.

  • GoSteelerz

    Except the Colts were winning with Manning, they only started losing when he was out due to injury. We’re losing even with Ben in there! smh

  • psteelers

    Sometimes curling up is the smart play. But smart and Ben will never be mentioned in the same sentence.

  • Bell Cow

    4 turnovers, missed open WRs all night … I’d say that’s right up there on the losers list for tonight. Also, yes the defense gave it up at the end, but the Bears offense was playing on a short field all night. Our offense gave up 17 points to their defense.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I’m feeling Jake Matthews, or Jadaveon Clowney

  • Christopher Wilkes

    I know he had a bad game collectively, but he had some bright spots too. He actually had a better QB rating than Cutler lol.

  • Bell Cow

    If we’re a top 5 pick then you gotta draft a stud OT like Matthews (TXA&M), Lewan (MICH) or a defensive playmaker like Clowney. I wouldn’t rule out a QB either if Bridgewater available because those type of QBs don’t come around very often and we may not get that opportunity again.

  • Bell Cow

    Good point.

  • psteelers

    Ok so it’s ok to turn the ball over when you get pressured? There’s nothing wrong with an incomplete pass or punting the ball. Ben plays qb like a rookie most of the time.

  • walter mason

    No need for name calling (Sherlock, bind). I may think you are stupid but I would never say so.

  • Bell Cow

    Sadly I agree that I kinda thought we looked somewhat decent offensively because my expectations are now so low. Lol it’s so sad what has happened to this team.

  • walter mason

    Ben is our entire offense. We live or we die with Ben. Its that simple.

    Maybe he needs to protect the ball better but he is certainly a top notch QB.

  • Richard Edlin

    While I agree it’s been mismanaged, we should have been 6-10 in a couple of years already and now looking for a strong wining season and AFC North dominance. I was hoping for 7-9 last year, as those few places could have helped in the draft.

    With the salary cap, you can’t expect a winning season every year … better management would probably mean more frequent losing seasons, but not the sort of extended run we’re looking at.

  • walter mason

    We were trying to come from behind. Our offense has been horrendous. We needed to make a play. If he curled up and went down or threw incomplete I think we would have lost the game anyway. We need to stop playing from behind.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    No, I didn’t say that, but when guys are running free at him then big plays can happen for the defense, and Ben was way too lose with the ball in his hands. Shit happens. At least we didn’t look as bad as the Giants.

  • walter mason

    Yes I agree. His hand was smashed and bleeding. Several other times his elbow hit a player. He was often in very tight quarters. He was trying too hard perhaps. But with a poor running game and trying to play catch up, he had little choice. I actually thought he started to get in rythym (spel check)

    If we could get an early lead, maybe he could fall down and curl up.

  • Whcr Communicators

    Ben did not play well, wtf were u looking at … he holds ball too long
    and is careless with it- Cant just go crazy on RB’s who are careless
    with ball but ignore Ben..in addition he missed several easy passes, he needs to practice more

  • walter mason

    I agree lol

  • Whcr Communicators

    mkeller and he does that shit when we are losing, that irks the fuck out of me.
    Get the 1st down and be happy but all that extra shits KILLS ME TOO

  • walter mason

    Well consider that Ben has been playing this same style for many years and it usually pays off. Im not sure he should change his style just because the OL is playing so poorly.

  • Eric

    Is the offensive line too inexperienced or just really bad?

  • JeromeFJ

    Right. Well…one reason actually. 5 turnovers to zero for Bears. That’ll mess up your game flow a bit.

  • Eric

    We may be the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs even without an injury to Ben

  • JeromeFJ

    Agreed. He’s a true pro.

    And you have to admire Jay Cutler’s toughness. He snapped William Gay’s head back like he was in a car accident. Woof.

  • Eric

    Quaterback? Hell no, We got Landry Jones. Just kidding. L.Jones was a wasted pick.

  • JeromeFJ

    Wait…he threw for 400 yards while dodging linebackers in the pocket all night. The turnovers killed you, but give Ben credit for a ballsy effort.

  • Eric

    3 fumbles, 2 lost, one taken to the house and 2 interceptions is the biggest reason for our loss tonight. Which Steeler did more damage?

  • walter mason

    He hasnt been sharp, I agree. But we would surely lose if he curled up on every other play. His hand was smashed and bleeding, his knee was bent backwards and his arm continually hit players. He is taking a beating. I cant imagine Starks playing any worse. We should have brought him in.

  • Whcr Communicators

    lots of those hits are after adequate time , he trying to play sandlot ball and do to much, he was 15-1 as a rookie when he didnt try to do too much

  • walter mason

    I seem to remember him rolling out of the pocket as a rookie that impressed the coaches so much. He is being pummelled this year and he cant step up or scramble. I still think the OL is the problem, not Ben. I dont have the answers but Starks saved us last year when we had the same problem early on.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    That is the question. I think it is a combination of a new system, not practicing the old, and using the old in the season with young players. It should get better but then it comes to play how good are they? I think in 2-3 weeks we will have a good idea.

  • walter mason

    Im going to guess bad coaching. Just a guess.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I like Ben but if Bridgewater was available it is a no brainer IMO.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Looking for a tackle who can block…Gilbert and Adams cannot.