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Running diary: Bears v. Steelers
Re-live every exciting play and horrible penalty from Monday night's loss to Pissburgh
How can you pass up a chance to re-live the near miss in nearly real time?
Here’s a running diary of last night’s Bears-Steelers game.
I haven’t watched an NFL pregame show in years. They all suck, so I just kill time until kickoff, but for some reason I watched some of the ESPN pregame and you’ll be shocked to know that they just decided to pretend that Ben Roethlisberger isn’t a scumbag.
It has always annoyed me that ABC and ESPN act like there are special stats for Monday Night Football. Lisa Salters just told us that a Dolphins-Steelers game played in the mud that ended 3-0 was the lowest scoring game in Monday Night history. That’s not a thing.
There is no Manning Brother Jamboree alternacast an ESPN2 tonight, so we’re rolling with the dull, but mostly competent ESPN crew of Steve “Bulging Dick” Levy, Louis Riddick and Bears’ all-time great Brian Griese.
The pregame has trivia questions that go across the bottom line and one of them was, I swear, “Who is the all-time leader in rushing for the Bears?”
That’s like asking who the all-time home run leader for the Yankees is.1
Bears receive to start the game and for the 117th kickoff in a row they will start inside their own 25.
ESPN has something called the Star Watch. They list Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick for Pissburgh, and David Montgomery and Allen Robinson, but not Larry Borom?
Jason Peters gets hurt on the second play of the game and he’s coming out. So basically, the Bears should just put Justin Fields on a plane back to Chicago right now.
Third and five, Fields completes a three yard pass to Robinson who falls down. Of course. But hey, that’s Robinson’s longest reception of the season.
Hey, somebody woke Hub up!
What a miserable ass he is.
Guys, I’m not sure this Chase Claypool-Kindle Vildor matchup is going to go well for the Bears.
Griese just said that QBs when they target Vildor have a 147 passer rating. Is that high? That seems high.2
Najee Harris scores on a ten yard run to open the scoring. Unlike Najeh Davenport, no hampers were pooped in.
Pissburgh kicker Chris Boswell makes the extra point to make it 7-0. He was in concussion protocol all week because of this:
Jakeem Grant fields the kick five yards deep in the end zone and downs it. Wait, of course he doesn’t do that. He returns it to the…ten. Do they know the rule? Do they know any rules?
We realize that Jason Peters is back in the game because he commits a false start on the first play of the drive.
There’s your first wasted timeout of the night. After an eight yard run by Fields makes it second and seven, there’s confusion lining up, but Fields gets the guys corrected with three seconds on the play clock and is about to snap the ball when…Matt Nagy calls timeout. Finely tuned machine.
Second and seven Fields completes a 15 yard pass to Robinson and of course, there’s a flag. Illegal formation on the Bears who lined up wrong before they shifted, which means Nagy drew up an illegal play. And, he called timeout to run it! Who says he’s not innovative? We really missed this kind of excellence last week.
Another fine drive by the Bears. Four yards on that one. They did burn a timeout and had two penalties though, so there’s that.
Levy says that after the draft Roethlisberger invited Najee Harris over to his house and Najee’s takeaway was, “Don’t go into the bathroom with him?” No, actually it was, “Man, he’s got a big house.” Hey Ben’s made a lot of money, he’s still got a little left over even after paying out his many settlements.
Sack by Big Play Bob Quinn, then a nice rush stuff by Akiem Hicks and the Bears force their first punt in two months. I’m honestly surprised the guys remembered who’s even on the punt return team. Great field position, too. This time they start the drive on their own 11.
It’s a thinker.
Big run by David Montgomery and then a nice scramble by Fields and the Bears have back to back first downs. I didn’t know that was legal.
Fields throws a slant that gets deflected and sticks to Cam Heyward for an interception. This is fine.
Bears defense stuffs Harris on third and one at the Bears 26. The Steelers offensive line sucks almost as much as the Bears’ does. But they go for it on fourth and one and convert to end the quarter. Pissburgh 7, Bears 0.
Angelo Blackson gets a personal foul which the Nagy Bears’ specialize in. But it’s offset by one on a Steelers’ offensive lineman which has to disappoint Matt. Claypool has a nice catch and run inside the five and there’s a flag…on the Bears for having too many men on the field. Lot of good it did them.
Bears get to third and goal from the five and rush four which gives him three minutes to find a receiver and he does, throwing a TD to Pat Freiermuth. Pissburgh 14, Bears 0
You know, this is why we dread the Bears playing on Monday night or Sunday night or Thanksgiving or really anytime but noon Sunday. There’s a kind of anonymity in shitting your pants in the first set of games every weekend, instead of doing it on national TV.
Fields scrambles on third and nine and gets lit up on the sidelines by Minkah and the Bears want a penalty for…tackling, or something. Don’t blame them, they’re not sure what it looks like.
After Steelers punt returner Ray-Ray McCloud goes full Jakeem Grant and gets tackled on his 17 yard line, Griese says, “The Bears need a turnover.” Yeah, they’ve needed one for a month.
The Steelers drive is killed by a holding penalty, and on third and 14 Ben throws a swing pass to Pat Freiermuth and you expected him to just run for 87 yards, didn’t you?
The Steelers fat punter (I mean look at him)…
…shanks it. Riddick says that Mike Tomlin called Jakeem “elite” and that the Steelers were really worried about him returning punts. Not as worried as we are, Louis.
Great throw from Fields to Cole Kmet for 25 yards. Yeah, Cole caught it. No shit.
I was about to give the ESPN crew credit because Levy mentioned that Fields is better under center than in the shotgun. It’s true. Then Griese says, “He was rarely if ever under center at Ohio State.” That’s very much wrong.
Bears run a fake bootleg and nobody blocks TJ Watt. Guess how that worked out?
On third and 18 Fields makes a really nice scramble and throw to Jakeem (Why is he running routes? Don’t the Bears have actual wide receivers?) for 15 yards, but since everybody thought Fields was going to run, Sam Mustipher was way down field. On third down Fields has to chuck one down the middle over everybody and Griese says, “That’s not helping your young quarterback.” Yeah, now you’re getting it.
Fat punter kicks again and Jakeem lets it roll and then he stands near the ball with his back to it, a Steeler pulls him into the ball before it goes out of bounds. That’s not a thing you can do.
The Bears go Wildcat with Montgomery at QB and Herbert and Ryan Nall in the backfield. Because you have to get Nall in the game somehow, I guess. They get a nice gain and then on third and one Montgomery is stuffed for no gain. The Bears go for it on fourth and one and Fields draws the Steelers offsides. Seriously. The Bears didn’t jump first. I hardly believed it either.
More Wildcat and this time it doesn’t work. Why are the Bears doing this? They are literally taking their best runner out of the game to…run the ball anyway? There had better be a David Montgomery pass in here somewhere, otherwise it’s just pointless.
Back to back completions to Cole Kmet (seriously) and the Bears are at the Steelers 10 with :57 left in the quarter. Somehow the Bears will run out of time and not score.
After a short rush by Montgomery the Bears call another timeout because they lined up wrong. That’s the only thing they’re good at.
Jimmy Graham has a TD pass knocked out of his hands. On the next play the whistle blows because Borom jumped offsides but nobody can hear it. Fields throws to Jimmy, who drops it. But it didn’t count anyway. On the next real play Fields throws it near Jimmy but not near enough. Riddick says, “Once Graham didn’t catch the second down pass I’m not going back to him. He missed his opportunity.” Louis is not wrong.
Cairo Santos kicks a field goal so the Bears have avoided a shutout, which is all Nagy really cares about.
Halftime - Pissburgh 14, Bears 3
Lisa Salters said that at the half Nagy told her, “We had too many self-inflicted wounds. We can’t do that to ourselves.” Yeah, that’s what self-inflicted wounds means.
Hey, another Mario Edwards Jr. personal foul! Actually this one was pretty weak. Ben got kneed in the head by his own lineman. We know what Mario Edwards personal fouls really look like. He gets like two a week.
Bears force a punt and I’m sure they’ve turned the game around now. Or something. And, naturally, fat punter drops one at the six. Might as well just take the safety.
ESPN puts up the inevitable graphic that with Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin the Steelers have only had three coaches in the last 52 years. Nobody doesn’t know this. Griese reminds us that Tomlin hasn’t won a playoff game in five years or ever beaten the Bears. I don’t think he’s breaking the first one with his current shitbox team, but he’s well on his way to other one.
Fields loads up on a deep pass to Marquise Goodwin for a 50 yard gain. And of course the ball comes loose at the end and the Steelers are challenging it. And wait…the call stands? The only other challenge I’ve ever seen the Bears win was the one that ended up with Benny Cunningham’s fumble going to the Packers for a touchback.
And then, another great throw from Fields to Kmet inside the five. What is going on?
Fields rolls and finds Graham for a touchdown! Woo! But it’s coming back because James Daniels gets called for blocking TJ Watt low, even though he did it inside the tackle box (which should have made it legal) and he whiffed (which also should have made it legal since you have to block somebody to make it an illegal block). It’s not just a penalty, it’s a 15 yard penalty. On second and goal Fields runs and gets hit in the back (no call). Then on third and goal they throw a screen pass (seriously) to Montgomery who gets it inside the five and the refs ignore a blatant late hit on Fields (who does a great job of laying on the ground like Ralphie’s brother to try to sell it.)
To no avail. But Cairo bangs in a field goal to make it 14-6.
On first down Big Play Bob drops into coverage on a play when Ben would have wandered right into him for a sack and Roethlisberger completes a 40 yard pass (that he still threw way short). Look, I get that the Bears are missing a lot of guys on defense, but wouldn’t it help the battered secondary to get some pressure on the quarterback? It’s like they just decided Ben would get rid of the ball so quickly they might as well just drop guys, but he’s not doing that. So go hit him.
The Bears have so many injuries I keep expecting John Timu to come into the game at linebacker.
Steelers have a third and one and the Bears stuff Harris. The play here is to kick the short field goal and go up by 11. With this Bears’ offense the game would be over. But the Steelers go for it and get it…barely.
And the drive ends on another TD pass to Freiermuth, even with Kindle Vildor holding him the whole way. Boswell misses the extra point. Not that it’s going to matter. Pissburgh 20, Bears 6.
Jakeem fields another kickoff seven yards deep in the end zone and brings it out short of the 25. I’m convinced the Bears don’t know touchbacks go to the 25 and have for years now.
More Wildcat and Montgomery runs for a nice gain and a first down. They put Fields back in and run the same play for four yards. Are there only like three plays on that huge laminated sheet?
Fields finds Mooney for 20. He was wide open, and standing still. This all goes back to the Bears running the most “static” routes in the NFL. No other team schemes routes that just end in the middle of the field. If Mooney’s moving when he catches that pass he’d have gained ten more yards. I swear, even Jon Shoop didn’t do this shit.
Fields drills one down the field to…wait, really?…Jimmy Graham! Bears are at the 15. The Bears run a wildcat end around to Mooney for 15 and a…touchdown? I’m stupefied. That play was actually set up by the previous Wildcat runs by Montgomery. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen the Bears be disciplined enough to run a play several times to set up a possible big play on a different version of that play. I know it’s basic junior tackle stuff, but it’s been four years and we just haven’t seen that. Steelers 20, Bears 13.
First play for the Steelers is a long pass interference penalty on Jaylon Johnson (30 yards). The ref appeared to call him for not turning around to play the ball. You don’t have to. That’s not a rule. And yet, it gets called a lot.
The ESPN guys can’t talk about how great Najee Harris is enough. They keep calling him “special.” He has gained 57 yards on 20 touches. Man, think how excited they’ll be if he ever gains three yards a touch?
Najee is stopped on third and one (again). So the Steelers send Boswell out to kick a field goal. It’s good from 54, and those points are courtesy that terrible PI call on Johnson and a missed blatant hold on the Steelers’ second down play. How fun. Steelers 23, Bears 13.
Jakeem finally returns a kick past the 25, and fumbles right to the kicker. Of course he did.
The Steelers have their own version of the awful Bear Raid siren, it’s supposed to be like a steel mill quitting time whistle or something? It’s fucking terrible.
Steelers have another third and one and instead of letting Najee fall down for no gain they run an end around to Claypool and Roquan destroys him, but not before he gets the yard.
And on the next play Roquan says “fuck this” and blitzes and sacks fat Ben.
Griese is surprised the Bears haven’t rushed Roethlisberger more. Yeah, him and me both.
Bears force a punt and I’m sure Jakeem can cough this up right back to them.
Jakeem lets it go and it does find the end zone for a touchback. So all his fumble cost the Bears was about four minutes of game time that they really couldn’t afford to lose.
Fields and Robinson can’t hook up on a 25 yard pass down the seam. It’s almost like they didn’t play with each other all of training camp or something.
Bears inexplicably call a third down play that even though there were two wide receivers and two tight ends on the field there was apparently only one actual option (Cole Kmet on a slant) and when it was taken away by Fitzpatrick there was nowhere to go. Astounding.
The Bears punt and Ray-Ray goes full Jakeem and fumbles and DeAndre Houston-Carson scoops it up and scores! Holy shit.
Cairo comes in to make it 23-20 and Levy says, “Santos missed an extra point last week.” Yeah, it’s not fucking contagious, Steve. He’s the best kicker in the league. The snap is bad but O’Donnell recovers in time to give Cairo enough ball to kick and the Bears are within a field goal. Pissburgh 23, Bears 20.
Harris makes a really nice move to duck away from Roquan who was about to drill him for a loss and he gains 13 yards.
On his next carry Harris loses three yards. Roquan and Eddie Goldman were having none of it.
Pissburgh has third and seven and the Bears need to get off the field. So Big Play Bob lines up offsides. Clutch. Doesn’t matter, Steelers get ten yards on a pass anyway.
Roethlisberger tries to pump fake and loses the ball. Christian Jones scoops it up and returns it for a…nothing, it’s incomplete.
On third and eight, whoever Cassius Marsh is sacks Ben to force a punt. And…the refs call Marsh for taunting. He was celebrating and the Steelers punter walks by him and apparently the refs decided he taunted the…punter? It’s a pathetic call. You can’t call THAT. But it’s a first down for the Steelers, and just another terrible personal foul on the Bears, which as we’ve already established is a trademark of the Matt Nagy Era.
Big Play Bob sacks Roethlisberger on second down to set up third and 16. The Steelers complete a short pass and of course miss a tackle that sets up a field goal attempt instead of a punt. And Boswell makes it. So another bullshit penalty costs the Bears time and gives the Steelers a field goal.
And yet, Justin Fields will get the ball with a chance to score a touchdown and win the game.
Jakeem doesn’t fumble, so that’s progress. And on first down, Fields finds Robinson for nine.
Fields goes deep to Mooney and just missed him, the ball goes off Darnell’s fingertips.
Fields runs an RPO gets the first down and goes out of bounds with 2:14 left.
After a pass to Robinson is knocked down, Fields runs for eight on second down and right into Devin Bush.
After the two minute warning, Fields throws a perfect pass down the sidelines to Robinson who catches it and then fades to his right and steps out of bounds.
On the next play, Fields breaks contain rolling left and throws another perfect pass, this one to Mooney for a touchdown. Fields got around the end and was going to run but he slowed got his shit together and made a great throw. That’s not rookie shit, gang.
Steelers try to bum rush Cairo for an offsides penalty, and then he calmly gives the Bears the lead. Bears 27, Steelers 26
Najee Harris wriggles away from a tackle for a four yard gain on first. Then Ray-Ray gains 12 and ducks out of bounds. Bears need to sack the fat pervert.
Another short pass to Harris, but Big Play Bob lines up offsides again. Why are the Bears so dumb?
Dionte Johnson takes a slant and gains 30 fucking yards and this time Trevis Gibson lines up offsides. Do the Bears practice anything ever?
Bears blitz but Roethlisberger throws to Freiermuth for eight yards, then he goes to kill the clock and he thought he caught the Bears with too many men on the field. But it turns out the Bears were so well organized that they were actually running a guy off the field and playing with TEN GUYS! This is really bad.
Roethlisberger runs an RPO and takes a half hour to try to gain a yard and he’s just short, setting up fourth and one.
The Bears have to call timeout to keep the Steelers from running the clock all the way down. I’m sure they’ll line up offsides on the field goal anyway.
Boswell makes a 40 yard field goal with 26 seconds left. Steelers 29, Bears 27
Thanks to the incredible clock management that Matt Nagy teams are known for, the Bears have no time outs left despite not calling any on their TD drive and only calling the one on the Steelers drive right before the field goal.
Oh god, Riddick is convinced that Jakeem is going to run the kick back for a touchdown…and Jakeem just lets the ball go over his head through the end zone, as ordered by his coaches. Didn’t we all just see him fumble?
Fields checks down to Montgomery and there’s an illegal contact penalty on the Steelers but the Bears are only at the 30 with :16 left. Then Fields finds Kmet at the Bears 41 with :11. I mean Cairo’s good, but he’s not THIS good.
Another pass to Kmet. But it’s only for 12 yards. 65-yard field goal if you want it, Matt.
TJ Watt bats a pass down and here’s Cairo. And Steve Levy says it goes 64 yards and hits the crossbar and falls helplessly into the end zone.
In reality it was a good five yards short. Nice camera work by ESPN.
Postgame Pointless Exercise
The Bears narrowly lost a game on the road and honestly, it came down to poor time management, a complete lack of discipline and composure and a defensive scheme that made no sense.
It’s impossible to watch that game and not realize that your coaching is costing you wins.
Only took nine games for the Bears to throw for more than 200 yards in a game. Fields was 17-29 for 291 yards a touchdown and another deflected interception. The Bears gained 414 yards and averaged more than seven yards a play. How do you not win when you do that?
Pissburgh only gained 280 yards. Najee Harris, who the ESPN announcers kept losing their shit over carried 22 times for 62 yards (2.8 yards per carry).
The Bears committed 12 penalties for 115 yards, and yes, at least three were complete bullshit but this isn’t a new phenomenon. The Bears routinely get baited into terrible penalties.
That said, they really got screwed on three penalties that were called that gave the Steelers six points (the terrible taunting on Marsh and a bullshit PI on Jaylon Johnson) and cost them four points (the phantom low block on Daniels that turned a Jimmy Graham touchdown into a Santos field goal. That’s a swing of ten points in a two point game.
Cole Kmet caught six passes for 87 yards, Robinson caught four for 68, Goodwin “caught” one for 50 and Mooney caught three for 41. The Bears averaged 5.2 yards per carry with Montgomery (63) and Fields (45) leading the way.
It was great to see the two touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter to get the lead and Fields was in total control down the stretch. There were some special throws on those drives, and maybe some day the kid will get to run a real offense with real coaches.
Pretty sure if Nagy missed this game the Bears would have won.
Surprisingly, it’s not Luis Sojo.
Well, since 158.3 is perfect, yeah, it’s high.