Updated Sep 23, 2013 - 6:40 am
Chicago swarms its way to perfect 3-0 start
PITTSBURGH (AP) - At the rate the Chicago Bears' defense is scoring, the offense might not be able to keep up.
At the moment, that's hardly a problem.
Major Wright returned an interception for a touchdown and Julius Peppers rumbled 42 yards after recovering Ben Roethlisberger's fumble for another score as the Bears remained unbeaten with a 40-23 win over the reeling Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.
The Bears forced five turnovers in all and improved to 3-0 for the second time in four years after racing to a 21-point lead then hitting the gas after the Steelers (0-3) drew within four in the fourth quarter.
"That's what we do, we take the ball away," Peppers said. "We stress it in practice every day, and it carries over to the game ... we have to continue to do that on a weekly basis to continue to win, and I believe we'll be able to do that."
Here are five reasons the Bears extended Pittsburgh's miserable September.
1. GETTING AFTER ROETHLISBERGER: Facing an offense that ranked 31st in the league coming in, the Bears decided to blitz Roethlisberger early and often. While Roethlisberger managed to throw for 406 yards passing and two touchdowns, he also tossed two interceptions and fumbled twice. Typically, ball security isn't an issue for Roethlisberger. It was when the Bears reached their paws out whenever he tried to step up in the pocket.
"I honestly thought the two fumbles were good plays," Roethlisberger said. "Sometimes I don't want to call it luck, but sometimes they hit the ball just right and it pops out."
2. STEADY UNDER PRESSURE: A field goal by Shaun Suisham early in the fourth quarter cut Chicago's advantage to 27-23 when the Bears responded with a nine-play 74-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Earl Bennett. Chicago converted three lengthy third downs during the drive, including Bennett's acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone.
"The (defensive) back was there, but the throw was perfect and I was able to make the play," Bennett said. "The way we played in the fourth quarter, that really shows how resilient we are."
3. SLOPPY, SLOPPY: Pittsburgh spent the week leading up to the game preaching ball security. All that talk fell on deaf ears. Four of the turnovers led directly to points for the Bears. While the Steelers racked up 459 total yards, most of them came while they were trying to scramble back into the game.
"You're not going to beat anybody in the NFL playing like that," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "We know it. We understand it. It doesn't make it any less painful but that's just the reality of where we are."
4. PICKING PITTSBURGH APART: Cutler spent most of the game focusing on short passes to negate the variety of blitzes the Steelers threw his way. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 159 yards and was sacked just twice. He also made one of the game's biggest plays when he scrambled for 13 yards to extend the game-clinching drive. Rather than slide, Cutler opted to lower his shoulder and plow into Pittsburgh cornerback Robert Golden.
Cutler was on the better side of the collision.
"I wanted to make sure I had the first down," Cutler said. "We were struggling on third down in the second half so I wanted to make sure we kept the drive going."
5. FAST STARTS: The Bears won their first two games thanks to furious rallies. It wasn't required this time after Chicago moved in front 24-3 after Wright dashed 38 yards after stepping in front of Roethlisberger's pass in the second quarter. The cushion sent some at Heinz Field dashing to an early exit and gave Chicago a major boost playing on the road for the first time this season.
"We kept our poise in the noise," Chicago coach Marc Trestman said. "That was number one tonight ... It wasn't easy to beat a great defensive team to the punch like we did at times tonight."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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