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Old 09-21-2009, 12:03 AM   #1
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Default Bears' fourth-quarter rally stuns Steelers in 17-14 loss

Bears' fourth-quarter rally stuns Steelers in 17-14 loss
By Scott Brown
Monday, September 21, 2009

CHICAGO The Steelers' misery in Chicago continued Sunday, though they only had themselves to blame following another loss in the Windy City.

The Steelers surrendered 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter at soggy Soldier Field, and the defending Super Bowl champions now find themselves tied for second place with the Cincinnati Bengals, whom they play next week, in the AFC North.

Robbie Gould kicked a 44-yard field goal with 15 seconds left to deliver a 17-14 win to the Bears and send the Steelers to their 12th loss in 13 games in Chicago.

The kicks that Steelers fans will remember are the ones that the normally reliable Jeff Reed pushed left in the fourth quarter.

The first one, a 38-yarder, would have given the Steelers a 17-7 lead. The second one, which Reed badly hooked, came on a 43-yard attempt with 3:23 left in a 14-14 game.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler made Reed and the Steelers (1-1) pay. He coolly marched his team down the field against the No. 1 defense in the NFL, setting up the kick with which Gould split the uprights.

"First of all, I'd like to congratulate Robbie on making the game winner," Reed said in a quiet Steelers locker room. "I've been in those shoes plenty of times, and I know how great that feels as opposed to how I feel.

"I tried too hard on both of them. I thought the first one was going to sneak in, and the second one I didn't give it a chance. I'm just embarrassed."

His teammates supported Reed, who kicked the game-winning field goal in the Steelers' season opener Sept 10 against Tennessee, in part because the outcome didn't just come down to his right foot.

"We shouldn't have even put Jeff in that position," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.

Indeed, on the play that preceded Reed's second miss, wide receiver Santonio Holmes couldn't hold onto a Roethlisberger pass in the left corner of the end zone. The Steelers, in fact, were plagued by such near-misses all game, which explained why they never put away the Bears (1-1).

And why they lost even though they never trailed until the last 15 seconds of the game.

Roethlisberger never got a chance to pull off what would have been his most unlikely fourth-quarter comeback. Rookie returner Stefan Logan lost a fumble on the kickoff following Gould's field goal.

"We let one slip away from us," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said.

The Steelers made it look downright easy in the first quarter.

The defense held the Bears without a first down on two possessions, and Roethlisberger led a 13-play, 92-yard drive that he capped with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Spaeth.

The final three quarters were considerably different than the first one, but they had the same theme: The Steelers making enough mistakes, including untimely penalties and dropped passes, to let the Bears hang around.

"If you shoot yourself in the foot, obviously you're going to allow a team to capitalize on the mistakes you make," Holmes said.

Yet even after the Bears tied the score, 14-14, with a little more than six minutes left in the fourth quarter, it seemed inevitable that Roethlsberger would conjure up more fourth-quarter magic. He was 23 of 35 for 221 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the game.

He drove the Steelers to the Bears' 25-yard line, and on third-and-2, Roethlisberger caught Chicago in a blitz and with cornerback Charles Tillman covering Holmes one-on-one.

Holmes ran a fade, and Roethlisberger appeared to hit him in stride in the end zone, but the ball glanced off the receiver's hands. Holmes, who is less than eight months removed from making one of the most memorable catches in Super Bowl history, said Tillman got just enough of a hand on the ball to change its flight.

After Reed missed the 43-yard kick, Cutler showed that his four-interception performance last week was an aberration.

He did not allow the Steelers' defense to get off the field until Gould had kicked his sixth career game-winning field goal at Soldier Field.

The Bears rallied in the fourth quarter, largely because Cutler completed 9 of 10 passes in the final 15 minutes.

"When we have the lead going into the fourth quarter, we expect to be a great defense and hold onto the lead," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "I felt like all along we had control of the game, I really did."

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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