Bears stay undefeated with win over Steelers

Bears use defense to cruise over winless Steelers
Bears stay undefeated with win over Steelers

The Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers are clearly teams headed in opposite directions.

The Bears, behind an opportunistic defense, built a three-touchdown lead in the first half on its way to a 40-23 victory over the Steelers on Sunday night at Heinz Field to run their record to 3-0.

The Bears have won their first three games for the first time since 2010 when they went to the NFC Championship Game. The Steelers are 0-3 for the first time since 2000.

Pittsburgh had five turnovers, including three fumbles, and Chicago scored two defensive touchdowns on an interception return by Major Wright and a fumble return by Julius Peppers. The Bears have forced 11 turnovers in three games.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completed 20 of 30 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. Matt Forte rushed for 87 yards and one score on 16 carries.

The Steelers held Forte and Brandon Marshall in check in the passing game after each compiled 15 receptions in the first two games. Marshall had five receptions for 52 yards and Forte caught four passes for 24 yards.

Down 24-3 at one point in the second quarter, the Steelers cut the deficit to 27-23 on Shaun Suisham’s 44-yard field goal with 10:38 left.

However, Chicago answered on Cutler’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Earl Bennett with 5:48 remaining to increase its lead to 11 points. Three players earlier, Brandon Marshall got open for a 41-yard reception after being held to four catches for 11 yards to that point.

A little less than two minutes later, Peppers had a 42-yard fumble return for a touchdown to make it 40-23. Lance Briggs forced the fumble when he sacked Ben Roethlisberger.

One bit of bad news for the Bears came in the fourth quarter when defensive tackle Henry Melton was taken off the field on a cart with a knee injury.

Roethlisberger threw for 406 yards and two touchdowns — both to Antonio Brown — on 26-for-41 passing, But he lost two fumbles, threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.

Roethlisberger has already been sacked 10 times this season behind a patchwork offensive line.

Brown had nine receptions for 196 yards as the Steelers scored more points Sunday than they did in their first two games combined when they tallied a total of 19.

Chicago burst to a 17-0 lead after one quarter, scoring on each of its first three possessions.

The Bears took the opening kick and drove 51 yards in 13 plays before settling for Robbie Gould’s 47-yard field goal.

The defense gave Chicago a short field moments later when D.J. Williams had a strip sack of Roethlisberger and recovered the fumble at the Pittsburgh 17. Four plays later, Forte ran for a 5-yard touchdown to make the score 10-0.

Michael Bush scored on a 1-yard plunge on fourth down with 2:01 left in the period, four plays after Forte broke a 55-yard run off the right side.

The Steelers got on the board on Suisham’s 27-yard field goal with 13:36 left in the second quarter, but the Bears answered when Wright returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown a little more than 3 1/2 minutes later to put Chicago on top 24-3.

Roethlisberger threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Brown with 6:27 to go, drawing the Steelers within 24-10 at halftime.

After the teams traded field goals in the third quarter — Gould connected from 32 yards, then Suisham hit from 36 — the Steelers got within a touchdown at 27-20 when Brown made a spectacular one-handed grab of a Roethlisberger pass in the back of the end zone for a 21-yard score with 1:50 left in the period.

NOTES: Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller started after sitting out the first two games while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery performed last December. … WR Derek Moye, who scored one of the Steelers’ two touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season, was inactive along with RB Le’Veon Bell (foot), CB Cortez Allen (ankle), QB Landry Jones, CB Isaiah Green, OL Cody Wallace and DT Hebron Fangupo. … Chicago’s inactivates were WR Marquess Wilson, CB C.J. Wilson, RB Michael Ford, G James Brown, OT Jonathan Scott, DE David Bass and DT Zach Minter. … The Bears visit the Detroit Lions on Sunday while Pittsburgh travels overseas to play the Minnesota Vikings in London.