Going into Pittsburgh is not easy. 15 of the last 16 NFC teams that have gone into Heinz Field and tried to win, have failed. And the Bears nearly joined that statistic Sunday night.
Despite a 17 point first quarter and a 21 point lead in the second, the x-factor for the Steelers is always Big Ben. Rothelisberger threw for 406 yards on the Bears - 282 in the second half - using Houdini like moves to escape sacks, find receivers, and move the chains. Suddenly the Bears comfortable lead was down to four entering the final 15 minutes.
But fourth quarter heroics is becoming some what of a habit for the 2013 Bears. Credit for that goes to their quarterback Jay Cutler. Brandon Marshall called him "Mr. 4th Quarter" just seven days ago and he lived up to the nickname again.
Cutler converted three third and long situations to lead the offense on the game sealing touchdown drive. The head on hit he took scrambling for 13 yards on 3rd and 10 showed his toughness. But I don't think you can underestimate how much confidence it gives him to have a coaching staff believe so whole heartedly in his ability to be the kind of QB the Bears need him to be. Elite.
But the game got ugly at times. Really ugly. The defense came up with five take aways and two touchdowns, yet there were the Steelers- dominating the 3rd quarter. To make matters worse, the Bears watched their franchise tagged defensive tackle Henry Melton get carted off the field after suffering a left knee injury that is feared to be a torn ACL. He needed crutches to limp out of the locker room. An MRI will reveal the extent of the damage and this is the Bears greatest concern moving forward.
Nate Collins has done admirably in his minimal opportunities, but someone is going to need to step up big time to fill that hole. Melton may not have had the start to the season the defense needs, but he's key - no question about it.
So is Julius Peppers and questions continue to swirl around his status. He says he feels great, maybe he just means physically. Peppers has not been the dominant impact player of the past 11 seasons. He's made big plays - see a fumble recovery running it in 42 yards for a touchdown - but still no sacks through three games.
Alright, enough raining on the parade, the Bears are 3-0. One of just six unbeaten teams that remain after three Sundays. Sure their last two victories have come against winless teams, but they've had to overcome some adversity to get here. And there will be more ahead. Better teams, tougher tests. But if they really are buying in to Marc Trestman's "win the day" mantra, they're only thinking about week 4 in Detroit.