Nearly everything about the Bears’ first win of the season was just plain crazy.
Marcus Cooper Leon Lett’d his way onto every highlight show for the rest of time, stopping short of the goal line on his return of a blocked field goal. The Bears turned the ball over not once but twice in their own red zone in the second half, erasing their double-digit halftime lead. Tarik Cohen rattled off an insane 73-yard rush that you could only recreate on a Playstation, only that was called back, apparently he stepped out of bounds. Jordan Howard came to the rescue with a walk-off touchdown rush that had Soldier Field hopping.
And that’s all without even mentioning the overarching topic of the day in the NFL: The President of the United States calling peaceful-protesting players “sons of bitches” who deserve to be fired.
All that madness — on the field and off of it — combined into a crazy concoction that ended with the Bears winning one of the more ridiculous games you’ll ever see.
And did I mention that the Bears won? That’s right, the same team that dropped to a sky-is-falling 0-2 a week ago with a turnover festival in that blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came back to Chicago and played well enough to beat the perennially contending Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It was great, especially in the fashion that it happened,” Bears defensive back Prince Amukamara said after the game. “Just what we did before the game and during the game. Coop’s touchdown not being a touchdown. Tarik’s touchdown not being a touchdown. And then Jordan’s touchdown actually being a touchdown. All that was just great. It just kept building the momentum, like a story or a movie — how’s it going to end? And we’re glad that it ended the way that it did. I don’t want to think about going 0-3, but it would’ve been ugly here in Chicago, I know that.
“I’d put it top two right after the Super Bowl win my rookie year.”
Oh really? Amukamara is referring, there, to Super Bowl XLVI, in which the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots with a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minute. That’s pretty lofty company.
The Bears didn’t play championship-quality football Sunday, and it’s not apparent that they’ll come close to doing so at any point this season. But give them credit for overcoming plenty, much of it their own doing, and winning a game few outside Halas Hall expected them to win.
Cooper’s bone-headed play stands out if only because it was absolutely incomprehensible. Special-teams ace Sherrick McManis blocked a Steelers field goal in the waning seconds of the first half. Cooper picked the ball up and sprinted the length of the field toward the end zone, only to inexplicably stop inside the 10-yard line, allowing the ball to get swatted out of his hands. No touchdown. A Steelers penalty prolonged the half one more play — the Steelers had to come back out of the locker room — but Charles Leno committed a false-start penalty. No touchdown. The Bears settled for a field goal on an unbelievable sequence that looked almost sure to come back to bite them.
When Howard’s third-quarter fumble turned into a Steelers touchdown and a Mike Glennon interception turned into a Steelers field goal, the Bears’ 10-point halftime lead was gone. Surely this would drench their parade, right? But the defense kept doing its thing. A Steelers offense that is high-powered at times thanks to its Big Three of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown was well subdued by the Bears defense. Bell rushed for just 61 yards.
The Bears tried driving for a game-winning score in the fourth quarter, stringing together a nightmare sequence in which Cohen fumbled (recovered by the Bears), Glennon nearly threw a pick (dropped by the defensive back Mike Mitchell) and a snap went sailing by Glennon’s legs (he picked it up and threw it away). But disaster was again averted as the defense stepped up one more time, with Willie Young sacking Roethlisberger on the final play of regulation to melt the game into overtime.
The Bears made a lot of mistakes. But they won.
“It’s tremendous for us to be able to overcome those things because we were definitely shooting ourselves in the foot,” Cohen said. “As you saw last week, we shot ourselves in the foot, and it didn’t end too well for us. To battle and overcome those mistakes, it’s a great thing.”
“It was seriously a great win,” Glennon said. “Just finding a way to win against a really good football team is the goal every week. We found a way, it was kind of unique. We had turnovers, the blocked kick, overtime with Tarik’s run being called back, it was a whirlwind of emotions but I thought we handled it really well. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we won.”
While Glennon didn’t win over many more fans Sunday — he threw for just 101 yards and completed one pass to a wide receiver the entire game — he sure is right about that.
While Week 2’s trip to Tampa was a disaster in all phases with some high-profile mistakes from the highest-profile position on the field, you could certainly argue that the mistakes Sunday were as bad and as frequent.
But the difference between last week and this week was the Bears playing well enough elsewhere to make up for those mistakes — this time in the face of some competition annually regarded as some of the best the NFL has to offer.
Glennon wasn’t great. Cooper screwed up bad. Howard fumbled. The refs called back Cohen’s touchdown run. And the president put every player in the NFL in a position they didn’t want to be in. But the Bears kept going. And this time they made the plays that got them a win.
“They’ve given us everything they had in all three games they’ve played,” John Fox said. “We just made some errors in the other ones that we weren’t able to overcome. We’ve had opportunities, but it was nice to get the win today.”