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Earl Bennett provides insurance with clutch TD catch

PITTSBURGH — When the Bears needed a play late in Sunday night's game against the Steelers, Jay Cutler turned to Earl Bennett and the veteran receiver delivered.

Bennett's 17-yard touchdown catch on third-and-five enabled the Bears to extend their lead to 34-23 with 5:48 to play after the Steelers had scored 13 straight points to trim a 27-10 deficit to 27-23.


Earl Bennett gets his second foot down in bounds for a crucial TD catch Sunday night at Heinz Field.
"I looked up and saw man [coverage] across the board and knew I had to win," Bennett said.

Officials initially ruled the pass incomplete. But Bears coach Marc Trestman challenged the call after replays showed that Bennett had dragged his second foot down inbounds. After a review, referee Pete Morelli reversed the call to a touchdown.

"I didn't know I was in," Bennett said. "I just went off the reaction of the crowd. When we looked at the replay board, it was clear that I was in."

Trestman challenged the call after consulting with his assistants who were up in a coaching booth.

"There was some time there," Trestman said. "We talked about it upstairs and I said 'take another look at it.' It wasn't even a majority of the guys, it was unanimous there was Earl was in bounds so the guys upstairs did a good job with that."

Tracking Jay: Cutler completed 20 of 30 passes for 159 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a 90.8 passer rating against an aggressive Steelers defense. He was sacked twice.

"I thought he did a very good job," Trestman said. "This could have been a very frustrating night. There were some people in his face. He had to scramble, and we knew going in it wasn't going to be simple. It wasn't going to be clean on every play.

"We tried to give him the quick stuff and get it out of his hand. At times we took some [seven-step drops] and it made it tough. The pressure was coming and it was coming from different places each and every time. It was a very good defensive game plan."

Cutler sustained the drive that resulted in Bennett's touchdown by scrambling for 13 yards on third-and-10 and completing a 41-yard pass to Brandon Marshall on third-and-12.

Third time a charm: Michael Bush's 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal late in the first quarter came after he had appeared to score on first down and third down runs from the 1.

Officials marked him short of the goal line on both plays. Trestman challenged the third down run, but the call was upheld by Morelli.

"I thought I was in on the first one, but I'm not the ref so I can't do anything about it," said Bush. "On the second one, if it touched the plane you're in, so to me I was in."

Showing poise: The Bears did not commit a pre-snap penalty for the third time in as many games this season. But the accomplishment was more impressive given that they were playing on the road for the first time, especially with rookie offensive linemen Kyle Long and Jordan Mills.

"One thing we did is we kept our poise in the noise," Trestman said. "That was No. 1. We wanted to make sure we had no pre-snap penalties in the game in the noise with our young guys."

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