They started like a house of fire, but by the end of the night, folded like a deck of cards.
Yes, even the champion Steelers can have “one of those days,” and even one of the best clutch kickers in the business, Jeff Reed, can as well. Sunday was just that day, and in the end, it was too much to overcome for the black and gold.
“I hadn’t talked to Jeff specifically about why he missed the kicks,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “Of course that is uncharacteristic of him. He just kicked the game-winner last week in overtime. That’s kind of what we are used to. It’s not what we’re used to in terms of what happened today.”
The first setback of the 2009 season is complete, as the team lost 17-14 after Reed shanked two late field goals, and the defense allowed the Bears to march 41 yards for a game-winning 44-yard field goal by Robbie Gould with 15 seconds left.
Not that the Steelers likely would have had any shot to try and tie the game up, but any doubt as sealed when the kickoff was fumbled away by Stefan Logan and recovered by the Bears. The loss was the first for the Steelers since they fell in Tennessee last December.
While it’s just a simple regular season setback, it’s stomach churning to say the least. The start of the game was about as good as it gets, as the team stopped the Bears three-and-out on their first drive, and then Ben Roethlisberger and the team went 92 yards in 13 plays, and on 4th-and-1 Ben threw to backup TE Matt Spaeth for a TD to make it 7-0.
The defensive domination continued till the second quarter when Chicago put a 13-play, 82-yard drive together to tie the game up. Jay Cutler had time to throw, and the QB had a good 1-2 punch with Johnny Knox, who made two big grabs for 38 yards. The drive concluded with a six-yard TD to backup TE Kellen Davis to tie the game at 7.
Things stayed tight till the third quarter, when the Steelers drove down the field in four plays and 69 yards, the big play being backup RB Rashard Mendenhall going for 39 yards to the two. Roethlisberger went in from two yards out to make it 14-7.
It was at that point that the Steelers could have imposed their will to put the game away, but instead they decided to give the game away. They got the ball late in the third quarter, and went from their own 37 to the Bears 20, but Reed missed a 38-yard field goal that very well might have put the game away.
The miss gave Chicago momentum, and they took it to drive down and tie the game when Cutler avoided a blitz to hit Knox with a 7-yard TD with 6:21 to go to tie the game up. Again the Steelers had their chances after that, and moved the ball smartly down the field, with the big play being a Mewelde Moore 15-yard run.
Again though, the game came down to a Reed kick, and this time, the 43-yard attempt was well wide, again giving the Bears a shot to take advantage of the mistakes. And they did.
Cutler hit Devin Hester with a huge third down pass completion, and they were able to march down to get in range for Gould, who unlike Reed nailed his 44-yard field goal for the win.
This is for sure a game the team should have won. They will look back and look at this game as a total missed opportunity. It’s easy to put the blame on Reed, but in the end, the defense and offense both missed their shots to finish off the Bears, and they paid for it losing to a team they should have beaten.