Panic began to set in across the board of my SteelerNation.com colleagues when Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields came out of the 2-minute warning, completed back-to-back passes of 39 and 16 yards to take a 27-26 lead with 1:46 remaining over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.
But as the *ahem* senior member of the crew, amidst the panic and declarations of how the Steelers lost the game, I calmly conveyed that Ben Roethlisberger would drive them down into FG range. Indeed, Roethlisberger would echo those sentiments in his post-game remarks as he addressed Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by saying, “I thought they left me too much time.”
It took only a 7-play, 1:16 second drive (which the Steelers did not face a 3rd down till the final play) and Roethlisberger channeling some old Toby Keith: “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” Big Ben connected on 5 consecutive throws of 4, 12, 22 and 13 yards to get the Steelers into FG range. His only incompletion, rushing a spike trying to catch the Bears with too many men on the field when he saw a Bears player sprinting for the sideline and trying to catch the defense with 12 men on the field. As it turns out, the discombobulated Bears were rushing to get their 11th defender off the field, forcing a 3rd and 2. The wily vet then decided to keep it himself on a RPO option (where he himself was not an R designation on the play) and the 39-year-old’s stretch for the 1st down came inches short as he nearly carried Bears DL Trevis Gipson to cross the sticks after recognizing the Bears defense was completely selling out to stop Najee Harris, who would have been stopped short of the scrimmage line.
By then, it was academic. Roethlisberger’s goal was to position Chris Boswell for a FG goal. When Automatic Boz nailed the 40-yarder with 0:30 seconds left, the Bears chances to give the Steelers their only loss when leading by 14+ points at home (215-0-2) were effectively lost.
Just another ugly win. Get used to it.
According to our own SN Stryker, “The crowd was stunned, quiet, and walked out of the stadium like it was a loss.” While it was ugly, it’s time to embrace the fact this team isn’t going to win pretty. There was another team in Steelers history (1989) that won ugly and finished an eyelash from the AFC Championship Game and this team bears strong resemblance to it.
The Steelers surrendered 21 points in the 4th quarter, regardless of 1 TD coming at the behest of a special teams gaffe by Ray-Ray McCloud with 6:47 left in the game. The Steelers pass rush was swarming Fields in the first half with a 42.6 pressure rate as T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward brought the heat (and in Heyward’s case: an interception), but registered only one sack from Watt in the second half. They failed to take advantage when James Pierre forced a fumble on a kickoff return that Boswell recovered – who made history on the play, courtesy of SN member Parker Abate:
Steelers' K Chris Boswell is the first player in NFL history to make two 50+ yard field goals, make a game-winning field goal and recover an opponent's fumble all in the same game…#BertschyBits#HereWeGo #CHIvsPIT@StatsBySTATS
— Michael Bertsch (@SteelersPRMike) November 9, 2021
The Steelers have a league best 80% conversion rate when needing 2 or fewer yards, but was stopped (once in the first half, thrice in the second half, including on back-to-back plays). The Bears were selling all out to stop Najee Harris and even though it resulted in some creative sweeps to get first downs, the Steelers need to make a team pay for selling out against the run down the stretch. If the offense does its job in simple situations, the game is never in question. They seem to play the biggest when they need to. Let’s hope it keeps up.
Milestones and Interest:
Ben Roethlisberger moved up the 4th Quarter Comebacks/Game Winning Drives All-Time list again as well as leading the NFL in comeback wins on the season with 4.
Mike Tomlin attained the 150th win of his career, passing Bill Cowher on the Steelers All-Time list.
T.J. Watt had 3 sacks for a season tally of 11.5, just a half sack behind Myles Garrett despite playing in 2.5 less games.
Najee Harris had his 4th consecutive game with 20+ carries and 5th consecutive game with a TD.
The Steelers won their 19th consecutive Monday Night Football Game at home – the last being when rookie QB Neil O’Donnell saw his first extended action and rallying the Steelers to a 20-point comeback before falling to a last minute FG to the New York Giants.