Bears hold 27-20 lead over Steelers
Major Wright returned a Ben Roethlisberger interception 38 yards for a touchdown and forced a fumble to set up a field goal and the Chicago Bears took a 27-20 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers through three quarters on Sunday night.
The Bears forced three Pittsburgh turnovers and converted all of them into points as Chicago's bid for a 3-0 start began with a flourish.
The Steeler trailed by as much as 21 points in the second quarter but pulled within a touchdown after a pair of scoring passes from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown.
The second, a one-handed grab by Brown in the back of the end zone with 1:57 left in the third quarter, turned what looked like a rout during most of the first half into something else entirely.
Chicago dominated most of the first 30 minutes as the sloppy Steelers did little to prove their 0-2 start was a misnomer.
The Bears led 24-10 at the break and pushed the advantage to 27-10 when Wright pounced on Felix Jones' fumble at the Pittsburgh 30.
The miscue was Pittsburgh's seventh giveaway in three games against no turnovers.
Pittsburgh turned it over twice in the first half. D.J. Williams stripped Roethlisberger in the first quarter, leading to a 5-yard touchdown run by Matt Forte.
Chicago was up 17-3 midway through the second quarter when Roethlisberger threw off his back foot in the face of a blitz.
The bail sailed right into the hands of Wright, who sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown to give the Bears a commanding 21-point lead.
The score marked the second straight week and the 10th time since the start of the 2012 season the Bears returned an interception for a touchdown, easily the most in the NFL over that span.
The Steelers, looking to avoid an 0-3 start for the first time since 1986, responded with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Brown with 6:35 left in the half to give Pittsburgh life.
Still, the first half belonged to the Bears. Chicago needed a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks to win their first two games. There would be no slow start this time.
Forte slipped into the end zone from 5 yards for one touchdown in the first quarter and broke loose for 55 yards to set up another and Chicago's defense continued its ballhawking ways as the Bears raced to a quick 17-0 lead.
Working quickly to avoid the myriad of blitzes thrown his way, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler completed 8 of 10 passes on a 51-yard opening drive that ended with a 47-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.
Four of those completions went to Alshon Jeffery, who came in with six receptions through the first two weeks.
The Steelers hoped the return of tight end Heath Miller would pump some life into the NFL's 31st-ranked offense. Miller hadn't played since tearing ligaments in his right knee last December against Cincinnati.
He sprinted onto the field on Pittsburgh's opening possession and Roethlisberger found him for a 6-yard gain on the team's second offensive play.
The momentum quickly vanished. Roethlisberger dropped back to pass on Pittsburgh's third offensive snap and stepped up in the pocket to evade the rush.
Williams reached for Roethlisberger's hands and the ball came loose. Anderson pounced on it at the Pittsburgh 17.
Chicago needed four plays to make it 10-0. Cutler found Forte for an 11-yard gain on third-and-9, and one play later Forte flipped into the end zone for his second touchdown of the season.
Pittsburgh went nowhere and punted, giving Chicago the ball near midfield. Forte ran through a gaping hole and darted to the right sideline before being pushed out of bounds at the Pittsburgh 5.
A defensive pass interference call put the ball at the 1. Three plays went nowhere before Michael Bush's second effort on fourth down pushed the lead to 17-0 and had some of the capacity crowd at Heinz Field already heading to the exits less than 15 minutes into the game.
On the verge of getting blown out on national television, the Steelers finally responded as the offense started to generate some rhythm for the first time all season.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org