With a great defense and a strong running game, all that Jay Cutler needs to do is avoid making mistakes, and stick to the plan. If all of that happens, the Chicago Bears are going to be just fine despite all the changes made this season.
You have to feel for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they’re simply a bad team that avoided making the right changes for too long because their defense held it together. They gave the Bears quite a fight, but it was only after they were down by 17. The Bears ended up winning 40-23, and it wasn’t even that close.
It was the first time any team has scored 40 points against the Steelers at Heinz field in the regular season (the Patriots had a 41-point performance nine years ago), and it was also only the sixth time in franchise history that the Steelers turned the ball over five times or more without getting to create anything through their defense themselves. The Bears don’t have the best defense in the NFL when it comes to stopping teams from scoring or getting yards, but no one forces turnovers better than them, and no one creates points off those turnovers better than them.
Jay Cutler had only one touchdown pass, but he didn’t need to do much more. The Bears scored two defensive touchdowns in the game: One by Major Wright, returning an interception (one of two by Roethlisberger) for 38 yards, and the other capped off the win, as Julius Peppers returned another Roethlisberger turnover (this time a fumble) for 42 yards.
The running game had no problem getting the yards it needed, even if the Steelers made a resilient effort to get some respect and pride from this loss. Matt Forte ran for 87 yards and a touchdown, while Michael Bush added one himself. With Chicago up by 17 at the end of the first quarter, there was no need for comeback heroics or for Cutler to try to do anything that ends up getting him in trouble – He completed 20 of 30 for 159 yards and finding Earl Bennett in the endzone. With so many turnovers and easy scores for his defense, the ball wasn’t really in the Bears’ possession (31:38) for that much.
The real damage was once again done by knocking Roethlisberger on his back. Big Ben turned the ball over four times – throwing two interceptions and fumbling the ball twice. He was sacked three times and brought on his back a few more, while the running game from the Steelers did do better than in the first couple of weeks, but still not up to the standard they need from it, limited to 80 yards on 21 carries with no touchdowns.
The Bears have had promising starts these last couple of seasons only to throw it all away at some point. This time, maybe, things are different. Jay Cutler has more than just Brandon Marshall to throw, while he himself might be different enough (and hopefully healthy till the end) and protected enough to make the playoffs, and maybe do even more than just “be” there.