Two plays. Two balls on the ground. Two very different results. One all-too familiar story for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh’s 40-23 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday night looked an awful lot like the two defeats that came before it. The offense couldn’t hold onto the football. The defense couldn’t take it away. Rinse. Repeat.
Still, while the Steelers remain winless after dropping to 0-3 for the first time since 2000, they believe they’re not hopeless.
“It’s a situation we’re not familiar with,” defensive end Brett Keisel said. “If we have the type of character we think we do, we can overcome this and find a way to fight back.”
The Steelers insist all it will take is a bounce here and a little more discipline there to turn things around. It hasn’t happened yet, though linebacker LaMarr Woodley knows at some point the odds have to flip in their favor. Pittsburgh is one of two teams in the NFL yet to record a takeaway and its minus-nine turnover differential tied with the inept (and also winless) New York Giants for the worst mark in the league.
“We’ve just somehow got to go out and produce them,” Woodley said.
The Steelers had just scored with 6:27 to play in the first half to draw within 24-10 on a gorgeous catch in the end zone by Antonio Brown. The defense stuffed the Bears on first down of the ensuing possession. On second down, quarterback Jay Cutler found wide receiver Alshon Jeffery underneath for a short gain. Pittsburgh cornerback William Gay knocked the ball out at the Chicago 33. The fumble, however, bounced right back into Jeffery’s arms before Woodley could pounce on it.
Chicago punted, but flipped the field. The Steelers took over at their own 13 instead of inside Bears’ territory. They moved to midfield before bogging down and headed to halftime down two TDs.
The deficit grew larger early in the third quarter.
Running back Felix Jones took a handoff from Roethlisberger on the second play after the break and was met by Chicago safety Major Wright. The hit jarred the ball loose and defensive tackle Henry Melton cradled it to give the Bears the ball at the Pittsburgh 29. Six plays later, a Robbie Gould field goal made it 27-10 and despite a spirited rally, the Steelers never got the ball with a chance to go in front.