CHICAGO — Chalk it up as another big flop for Big Ben and the Steelers. Once again, they lost to a lesser team.
Jordan Howard scored on a 19-yard run in overtime to lead the Chicago Bears to a 23-17 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
“We faced a lot of adversity today, but most was created by us,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “You got to give credit to those guys. They did a great job today, particularly in running the football. That’s unacceptable for us. We will absorb the negativity that comes with that. We own that.”
For the Steelers (2-1), it was just the latest “how-did-that-happen” loss. They’ve had at least one every year going back to 2012, and this one sure fit that description.
Howard’s winning score came two plays after rookie Tarik Cohen broke off an electric run for what appeared to be a 73-yard game-winning touchdown . But he was ruled out at the Pittsburgh 37. Howard took over from there and got a big assist as he ran along the left side. Deonte Thompson might have grabbed Pittsburgh’s Artie Burns while pushing him out of bounds. But no flag was thrown, and the Bears (1-2) came away with a surprising victory.
Chicago won for the first time in nine September games over three seasons under John Fox. The Bears also improved to 13-1 at home against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards and a touchdown, and then blamed himself for the loss.
“I think I was off today,” he said. “For whatever reason, I did not make all the throws I normally would and make the plays I normally should.”
Here are some things to know about the Steelers’ loss to Chicago.
GET RUNNING: Held to 20 yards rushing last week in a blowout loss at Tampa Bay, the Bears ran for 220 on Sunday.
A big reason for that: They committed to Howard even though he is banged up.
He ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns, though he came up clutching his right shoulder — which has bothered him since the opener — several times and wasn’t sure he would make it through the game.
BELL RINGING: After missing the preseason because of a contract dispute, Le’Veon Bell hasn’t hit his stride for Pittsburgh.
The former All-Pro ran for 61 yards and a touchdown. But through three games, he has just 180 yards and is averaging 3.5 per carry.
His longest run was a 15-yarder in the opener against Cleveland.
QB CALL: Glennon isn’t winning over the Chicago crowd.
He threw short passes all day rather than look down the field and wound up with just 101 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
That won’t quiet fans calling for No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. The quarterback situation figures to remain a topic of conversation as the Bears prepare for Thursday’s game at Green Bay.
Glennon targeted wide receivers just four times, throwing two passes each to Markus Wheaton and Deonte Thompson. The only completion was Thompson’s 9-yard reception.
“They were dropping deep into coverage, especially in the second half,” Glennon said. “We have a lot of guys who can catch the ball. I’ve said it all along; we’ll spread the ball out to our receivers, tight ends and running backs evenly throughout the year. All that matters is our offense executes well enough to win.”
NOT SPECIAL: Several special-teams gaffes hurt the Steelers.
The first was Eli Rogers muffing a punt on the game’s opening possession . That led to Howard’s first TD.
Another came during a wild sequence near the end of the first half.
Sure, Chicago’s Marcus Cooper earned his spot on the highlight reels when he slowed down with a clear path to the end zone and had the ball poked away from him at the 1. But that only happened after the Bears blocked a field goal attempt.
Chicago got the ball at the 1 after it was swatted out of the end zone and had to settle for a field goal after left Charles Leno Jr. got flagged for a false start.
ON DEFENSE: The Bears defense had another solid game.
Chicago held Pittsburgh to 282 yards and sacked Roethlisberger three times. The defense has played relatively well in all three games — even against Tampa Bay when the Bears got burned by bad field position with Glennon committing three turnovers.