Prior to Sunday’s tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers, I provided my keys to the game. I want to take a look at how the Bears did with those keys and how that impacted the 23-17 victory in week 3.
Keys to the Game
The Play-Action Passing Game: The lone Mike Glennon touchdown pass was off of play action. There was also a head-scratcher that resulted in a sack. The bigger question mark though is why not use it more when your rushing attack is so good? The Bears rushed 38 times for 220 yards, and that includes a few snafus by Glennon. This will be something to watch with the play-calling moving forward.
The Pass Rush: The Bears defense managed to sack Ben Roethlisberger 3 times in the game but that is misleading. The rest of the game, there was little to no pressure applied to the Steelers quarterback. In the end, it didn’t matter but had Roesthlisberger not been a tad “off” in this game, the lack of pass rush would have played a much larger role in the outcome of the game.
The X-Factor: Markus Wheaton made me look silly. Not the thought but the result. I still think they should’ve taken more deep shots. Wheaton was targeted twice and dropped both passes. The first incompletion, which was a deep shot early, it appeared that there may have been some pass interference but alas, there was no flag thrown. This, like the play-action attack, bears watching as we move forward in the season.
3 Bears Up
Jordan Howard: How can we not start here? Howard played a game that we will remember years from now, in spite of however this season turns out. His legacy will forever be cemented by his 19-yard touchdown run to seal the victory in overtime. He rushed for 138 yards on 23 carries, adding two rushing touchdowns. He also had five receptions for 26 yards. But that’s not the story. His gutsy and gritty performance stems from the AC Joint injury he suffered in week 1. After being forced out of the game a numerous occasions, Howard willed the Bears to victory on a balmy Sunday afternoon.
Tarik Cohen: The rookie running back continues to look like a truly special athlete. If not for a questionable out-of-bounds call — two plays prior to Howard’s clinching touchdown — Cohen would have scored in spectacular fashion. What could’ve been a 73-yard walk-off carry, instead turned into a 35-yarder to set Howard up. Cohen had 12 carries for 78 yards plus 4 catches for 24 yards — his second 100+ yard offensive output in his first three games.
The Cornerbacks: The much-maligned unit heading into the season had a very nice showing yesterday. Between Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan, the secondary had 6 passes defensed, 1 sack, forced fumble and 13 tackles (11 of which were solo). Roethlisberger only completed 56.4% of his passes, had 235 yards and a 82.7 passer rating. This unit wasn’t spectacular but if they play like this, the “top-10 defense” talk is more than hyperbole.
3 Bears Down
Marcus Cooper: His defensive play should be lauded but his bone-headed decision to stop running before scoring — on Sherrick McManis’ blocked field goal attempt — was truly damning. As it turned out, those 4 points he cost the team but slowing down at around the 20-yard line didn’t cost the team to lose, but it very well could have. Had the Bears not won the toss and Howard/Cohen impose their will on the Steelers defense, Cooper is vilified this week at the least.
Markus Wheaton: As noted above, Wheaton’s triumphant return, his “revenge game” if you will, was woefully disappointing. Not only did he not catch either of his two targets, but he dropped them both. With the lack of talent — and bodies for that matter — at the wide receiver position, Wheaton is going to need to step up his game moving forward.
Leonard Floyd: I hate to pile on Floyd again, because I could really say this about any player with a “90” jersey on. While I thought that Floyd had an OK game overall — mainly for his coverage snaps — the pass rush is almost non-existent. To me, pass rushers are just like running backs, they need to be fed. That means that Floyd and company need to be able to focus on hunting quarterbacks. Perhaps with more of a lead in subsequent games, they will?
What are your thoughts on who played well and who didn’t?
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