Sunday, May 22, 2022

15 Thoughts On The Bears’ Wild, Heartbreaking Loss To The Steelers

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Dhruv Koul shares his in-game reactions, thoughts and observations from the Bears-Steelers game at Heinz Field.  Follow him on Twitter @DhruvKoul to continue the conversation.



PITTSBURGH — It’s been a wild week in the NFL.  From the Chicago Bears somehow losing at home to the San Francisco 49ers, to Aaron Rodgers testing positive for COVID-19, to his interview with Pat McAfee, to Buffalo losing in Jacksonville and Dallas losing at home to Denver, the NFL proved it’s a wacky league.

Heading into tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, one might think that offered the Bears some sort of hope.  At least in pre-game thoughts.

Alas.

The reality is the Bears are just not a good team right now.  They are missing too many key players — Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson (!) among them.  The Bears are a shell of the unit that went into Las Vegas and dominated a solid Raiders team.

Heading into tonight’s game, it was all manifesting into another “must win” for Matt Nagy & Co.  One that, quite frankly, didn’t seem very likely.

In the end, the Bears put on a wild show in the second half, overcame some awful refereeing, featured a go-ahead TD drive by Justin Fields in the final two minutes, but ultimately succumbed to the Steelers to fall to 3-6.

I shared my in-game reactions, thoughts and observations below.  Follow me on Twitter @DhruvKoul to continue the conversation.

Thoughts and Observations

1.  Brutal start for the Bears.  They got the ball first after the Steelers deferred.  And they quickly went three-and-out, with Justin Fields late on an option route to Allen Robinson on third down.

Meanwhile, the Bears laid down defensively on Pittsburgh’s first drive.  On a 3rd and 7, Ben Roethlisberger connected with Chase Claypool on a deep ball to the Bears’ 25-yard line.  And they scored shortly thereafter on Najee Harris’ 10-yard run.  Way too easy.  The Bears continue to be a pushover on defense.  7-0 Steelers — quickly and easily.

2.  The Bears’ second drive was a different kind of special.  Jakeem Grant took it out from deep in their own end zone to the 10-yard line.  Then Jason Peters false-started.  Then the Bears needed a timeout.  Then they had an illegal formation out of the TO that wiped out a 16-yard gain.  Then eventually a punt.  It is a mess.

The Bears seem to be out of it already, and it’s midway through the first quarter.  Matt Nagy and this coaching staff is just stacking reasons for a firing during the bye week, to be honest with you.  It likely won’t happen, but the supporting evidence is mounting right now.

3.  The Bears’ offensive line has been miserable so far tonight.  Larry Borom has been beaten by T.J. Watt several times, including for a sack on an RPO.  And then, after picking up a couple first downs, Fields was picked off by Cam Heyward on the DL (yes, really) to set up Pittsburgh in great field position.

The Steelers quickly scored to go up 14-0.  The Bears will quickly need to be one-dimensional at this point.  It’s all sorts of ugly at Heinz Field for the Bears right now.

4.  The Bears had field position at their own 47 to start a drive.  They went to the Steelers’ 27 yard line on their first play of the drive.  And they ended up punting.

A play-action concept left T.J. Watt of all people unblocked.  (How?).  A total mess.

It’s still 14-0, Pittsburgh.

5.  The Bears’ defense has honestly held up pretty decently after a bad first drive.  Given how badly the Bears’ offense has played, including a minus-territory turnover, they’re fortunate to have only given up 14 points.

The Bears, meanwhile, are a mess on offense.  They did get on the board before halftime with a field goal, but after 1st and Goal at the 10-yard line — following a nice couple conversions — the goal-to-go sequence was miserable.

Steelers lead 14-3 at halftime.

6.  Nice pass breakup by Duke Shelley on the Steelers’ first possession to open the second half to force a punt.  The Bears’ defense has really responded tonight for the most part.

The Bears’ offense responded almost very nicely from it all.  Fields converted to Allen Robinson on a 3rd and 8 from inside their own 15.  Then a monster run by Montgomery gained another first down.  A 50-yard bomb to Marquise Goodwin set the Bears up well, and the Bears really should’ve had a touchdown two plays later, but there was a phantom holding call.  And then a missed personal foul on Fields.  They kicked the FG to cut the deficit to 14-6, but that should’ve been more.  They were robbed of points.

7.  Next drive, the Steelers go right down the field for back-breaking touchdown.  A Big Ben floating duck somehow found a Steelers receiver for a big gain.  A 4th and 1 conversion and a 3rd and 8 touchdown puts Pittsburgh up 20-6.  Not sure the Bears have two touchdown scoring drives in them…

8.  What a response by Justin Fields and the Bears’ offense.  A few very nice plays by the Bears, including a total rope by Fields to Jimmy Graham set up a Wildcat 15-yard TD for Darnell Mooney (handoff from Montgomery).  That was a quick, aggressive drive.  Fun to watch.  It’s now 20-13, Steelers.

9.  The Bears should be incensed.  Jaylon Johnson was called for pass interference on one of the worst PI calls I’ve seen in a while.  It totally flipped field position and allowed Pittsburgh to kick a (admittedly nice) 54-yard FG to go up 23-13.  These kinds of calls have happened all game, and it is reaching abhorrent levels.

10.  And Jakeem Grant just fumbled the ensuing kickoff.  Even though the Steelers didn’t score (thanks to a key Roquan Smith sack), it wasted some key time…

11.  Wow, the Bears get a break.  After a three-and-out, Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled the punt return and DeAndre Houston-Carson returned it for a touchdown.  While it was close, the call on the field was confirmed.  Bears down 23-20 now.  That’s a big break, but a great play by Xavier Crawford to punch it out and DHC to return it back.

12.  The Bears should be livid.  A horrendous, horrendous taunting call on a third-down sack by Cassius Marsh gave the Steelers new life (and field goal range).  They kicked it to go up 26-20, but the Bears have every reason to be livid tonight.  Their final drive should be FG to tie with more time on the clock.  Awful.

13.  Justin Fields with his first opportunity on a two-minute drive to try to win the game after all the wild, wrongful things that have happened to the Bears tonight.

It was a tough one to attempt on the road in Pittsburgh for sure.

AND HE DID IT!

A perfect throw to Allen Robinson on 3rd and 2 went for 39.  And then a beauty to Darnell Mooney in the end zone to put the Bears up 27-26.  Amazing.

14.  The Bears’ defense, unfortunately, ruined Fields’ big night with a total meltdown on the final drive.  Easy dumpoffs and slants weren’t covered.  Free plays.  Woof.

Rough loss for the Bears.  They fall to 3-6.  The season is over.

15.  The Bears (blissfully) head into their bye week before welcoming the Baltimore Ravens in two weeks.  At this point, at 3-6, it’s just a march towards the inevitable end for Matt Nagy and this coaching staff, possibly for this entire regime.  Just keep watching Justin Fields.

Way, way too early prediction: Ravens 34, Bears 17.

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