Sepember 21, 2009
By Donald Starver
The final score read Bears 17, Steelers 14. So technically the Chicago Bears won the game. However, anyone who actually watched the game will probably agree that what actually happened is that the Steelers lost the game.
“What’s the difference?”, you might ask. Well, “winning a game” is when the superior team outplays an inferior opponent. What we saw instead was the superior team finding a way to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Steelers actually finished the game as the statistically leader in most key categories. They had more than double the rushing yards that the Bears accumulated (105 yards versus only 43 yards for the Bears). They forced the Bears to punt twice as often (6 punts for the Bears versus only 3 for the Steelers). They finished the game with a higher time of possession than the Bears. While the Bears did finish with more passing yards, the difference was negligible (236 yards for Cutler versus 221 yards for Roethlisberger).
Unfortunately, the Steelers also led in 2 undesirable categories: Turnovers, and sacks allowed. It’s pretty hard to win a game when you lead in those two categories. Leading in turnovers, in particular, is usually the kiss of death.
The Steelers started the game in dominant fashion. They forced the Bears to punt the ball on their first 3 possessions of the game. The first two of those possessions were “3 and out”. Meanwhile, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger marched his team 92 yards for a touchdown on their very first possession.
The Steelers were so dominant in the 1st quarter, that when the quarter was over, the Steelers had held the ball for 11 minutes and 26 seconds. They only allowed the Bears 3:34 total time of possession in the quarter. When your time of possession in a quarter is 3 times your opponent’s, you’re probably on your way to a win. Or so we thought.
Things seemed to change in the middle of the second quarter when it started raining. Ben Roethlisberger had been so deadly accurate in the first quarter, but once it started to rain, it seemed like Big Ben couldn’t get a good grip on the ball. He started missing receivers on passes that he was making earlier.
While the rain clearly affected Big Ben, the player most impacted by the rain seemed to be Steelers kicker Jeff Reed. With the Steelers leading 14-7 in the fourth quarter, Jeff Reed was called upon to kick a 38 yard field goal. Anyone who has ever watched Jeff Reed kick knows that a 38 yard field goal for Jeff Reed is like a 3 foot putt for Tiger Woods; it’s basically automatic. But on this occasion, it was anything but automatic. Reed’s kick went wide left.
Later in the 4th quarter, Reed had a chance to redeem himself. With 3:23 seconds left in the game and the score tied 14-14, Reed was called upon to kick a 43 yard field goal that would have given the Steelers the lead. Steelers fans knew that they are far more likely to see a unicorn than they are to see Jeff Reed miss two kicks in a row, so Steeler Nation’s confidence was pretty high. Unfortunately, the near-impossible happened. Reed missed yet another field goal, as his kick sailed wide left……again.
So the Chicago Bears got the ball back with just over 3 minutes left in the game. Jay Cutler proceeded to march his team down the field, but time was not on his side. So with 20 seconds left in the game, the Bears called upon their kicker, Robbie Gould. Most Steelers fans were probably thinking that if Jeff Reed was unable to make two field goals in the muddy mess at Soldier Field, there was no way that Gould would be able to make an even longer field goal. But make it he did.
So despite being the dominant team for most of the game, the Steelers ended up losing the game. The Bears didn’t win the game. No, that would be giving them too much credit. Anyone who watched the game knows exactly what I mean. In this case, the Steelers really did lose the game.
(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter by clicking the doohickies at the bottom of the right column of this page. Thanks.)