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2-Minute Drill: Defense shines in OT win over Steelers

Posted Sep 24, 2017

The defense not only kept the Bears in Sunday’s game against the Steelers but played a huge role in a stunning 23-17 overtime victory at Soldier Field.

When the Bears opened last weekend's game in Tampa by committing four straight turnovers, it gave their defense no chance to keep the score close.

But given another opportunity a week later, the defense not only kept the Bears in Sunday's game against the Steelers but played a huge role in a stunning 23-17 overtime win.

"Well, a week ago you couldn't even evaluate our defense," said coach John Fox. "It was a pretty explosive offense in Tampa. They had a lot of short fields. I think it was good today that we didn't do that to them. All in all, I think our defense was very solid. They took their shots and I think our secondary did a good job of being deep when we needed to be."

On Sunday, the Bears held future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a pedestrian 82.7 passer rating. They also sacked him three times, including one by blitzing nickel back Bryce Callahan that resulted in a fumble recovered by Akiem Hicks.

Akiem Hicks
Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks celebrates after recovering a Pittsburgh fumble.

The defense also contained running back Le'Veon Bell, holding him to 61 yards on 15 carries.

Focus and finish: When Marcus Cooper Sr. pulled up short of the end zone while returning a blocked field goal on the final play of the first half Sunday, Fox probably experienced a case of déjà vu.

Fox was coaching the Broncos in 2013 when Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan made the same type of blunder when he was a Denver rookie, dropping the ball a yard short of the end zone while returning an interception against the Ravens.

"I had a similar situation that happened a few years ago in Denver," Fox said. "Actually it is one of our current players who did something similar. [Cooper] will learn from it. Nobody feels worse than he does. It's a matter of focusing and finishing. He understands that."

Line changes: Playing in his first game since breaking his ankle last Nov. 13 in Tampa, Kyle Long started at right guard. With veteran guard Josh Sitton inactive due to a rib injury, Cody Whitehair opened at left guard with Hroniss Grasu at center.

But Grasu exited with a hand injury late in the first quarter, necessitating more changes. Whitehair moved to center and Bradley Sowell entered the contest at left guard.

The offensive line helped the Bears rush for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries, a stellar average of 5.8 yards per carry.

Showing respect: While national anthem protests were being conducted throughout the NFL Sunday, Bears players chose to stand and lock arms on their sideline during the anthem.

"We're a team," Long said. "We love each other. We're empathetic for each other's issues. This team does a great job of putting ourselves in others' shoes. And it's not something that's hush-hush; we talk about it in the locker room. We have guys who are open about how they feel, and we have guys that are respectful of other people's opinions.

"I feel today showed that we are a unit, a cohesive unit. That's what we wanted to convey today. We didn't want to show any disrespect towards the military, the flag. But there are obviously issues going on in our country, and I think we did the right thing today."

The Steelers decided to remain in their locker room for the anthem. The only Pittsburgh player who was visible was left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan with the Army. Villanueva stood with his hand over his heart.

Spreading the ball around: Deonte Thompson's 9-yard reception was the only catch by a Bears wide receiver in Sunday's game.

"They were dropping deep into coverage, especially in the second half," said quarterback Mike Glennon. "We have a lot of guys who can catch the ball. I've said it all along; we'll spread the ball out to our receivers, tight ends and running backs pretty evenly throughout the year. All that matters is that our offense executes well enough to win."