Week 9 of the 2021 NFL season was full of surprises, and “Monday Night Football” nearly delivered another, with Bears rookie Justin Fields bursting in the fourth quarter to lead a scoring drive in Pittsburgh. On a scrappy night full of big hits, polarising penalties, and special teams blunders, the Steelers got the last laugh, with Chris Boswell sealing a 29-27 victory for the home team, going to give Pittsburgh its fourth straight victory and moving the AFC North challengers closer to the division-leading Ravens.
With Monday’s tight loss, the Bears drop to 3-6 on the season, they’re fourth in a row. The Steelers, on the other hand, are on a roll after starting the season 1-3, even if their road to this point hasn’t been easy.
How Steelers Won
That wasn’t easy, as they continually refused to put the Bears away, but they triumphed primarily because they played their style of football: ball control on offense and physical defence. As is so often the case these days, Ben Roethlisberger was inconsistent and rarely threatening, but he made up for his mistakes (a near-pick, some big sacks, a near-fumble important downs) he used tight spirals and even a little movement, especially during a third-quarter scoring drive that put Pittsburg up 20-6. Although Najee Harris had trouble finding holes, he helped the Steelers win the possession war. What about the “D”? Late in the game, when Justin Fields began airing it out, things started to fall apart, but the usual suspects made splash plays to stymie Chicago’s offense: Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt, and Minkah Fitzpatrick combined for 17 tackles, three sacks, and a pick. Meanwhile, Boswell was set to lead special teams throughout the game, recovering a fumble on a kickoff and making all of his field goals, including a 54-yarder that was the game-winner.
How Bears lost
On Monday night, Justin Fields made his first appearance in the NFL. In the third quarter, the Bears appeared doomed, having shown little offensive life in the first two quarters and failing to live up to their defensive reputation. Fields and the Bears then switched the narrative as rapidly as fries are slapped onto a Primanti’s sandwich (because it was in Pittsburgh, ya know?). The rookie combined all of his lessons from his brief career, bailing out of the pocket and taking off when there was nowhere to throw the ball, rolling away from pressure and flipping his hips to deliver strikes, and driving the Bears down the field on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives that Chicago desperately needed. On the second scoring drive, Fields dropped to pass, stepped up, and ripped a rope over the nearest defender to Allen Robinson racing down the sideline, the best throw of his young career. The Bears took the lead thanks to a touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney, who put the world of football on notice. Fields continue to improve, and the Bears must be pleased with what they saw from their young quarterback, even though they lost.
What will be next
In Week 10, the Steelers (5-3) will face the Lions (0-8), who are coming off a bye after a 44-6 loss to the Eagles. Meanwhile, the Bears will take advantage of their bye week to relax before hosting the Ravens in Week 11.
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