On Monday night, the Chicago Bears will square off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a battle of storied franchises.
The 3-5 Bears are coming off a disappointing loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, the 4-3 Steelers are fresh off a win over their AFC North rivals in the Cleveland Browns. The Bears' playoff hopes continue to slip away, but the prospects of a bright future continue to build with Justin Fields. The Steelers continue to claw their way back into the playoff picture after a rough 1-3 start.
Dating back to their first matchup back in 1934, the Bears and Steelers have faced each other 27 times. The Bears started off this rivalry by winning the first 10 games between 1934 and 1949. Then, over the next 14 games between 1958 and 2005, the Steelers put a dent into the Bears' lead. The Bears held a 6-7-1 record against the Steelers in that time. In the most recent three contests, the Bears are 3-0. This brings the overall head-to-head record to 19-7-1 in Chicago's favor.
The last time these two teams met was September 24, 2017, a beautiful, sunny Sunday which coincided with Week 3 of the NFL season. The 2-0 Steelers visited the 0-2 Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. At the time, the Steelers were led by Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Antonio Brown. On the flip side, the Bears came into this one with John Fox, Mike Glennon, Jordan Howard, and Tarik Cohen leading the charge. Not to mention, the Bears' pass-catchers were lackluster at best.
The game got off to a bizarre start, which set the pace for the rest of the contest.
The Bears forced the Steelers' offense to three-and-out and punt the ball back to their offense. However, the Bears' offense did not fare much better, losing one yard on three plays and ultimately punting the ball back to the Steelers. But this is where the Bears caught a break. Pittsburgh's punt returner, Eli Rogers, muffed the punt and Chicago's Sherrick McManis recovered the ball at the Steelers' 29-yard line. Six plays and 29 yards later, the Bears held a 7-0 lead over the Steelers thanks to Jordan Howard scampering into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown run.
On the subsequent Steelers drive, Roethlisberger fumbled on third down. Bears' DB Bryce Callahan recovered the ball and got his team to midfield. Ultimately, after a six-play, 21-yard drive, Bears' kicker Conor Barth missed a 47-yard field goal wide right. Next, the Steelers went three-and-out once again resulting in a punt. The Bears' offense didn't do much as well and were forced to punt the ball back.
The second quarter was when the intensity of the game picked up.
On their first possession of the frame, the Steelers marched 77 yards on 13 plays and knotted the game up at 7-7 when Roethlisberger found Brown for a seven-yard touchdown pass. The entire drive spanned 7:11. The Bears responded accordingly by recapturing the lead after a 75-yard, nine-play drive that took up five minutes of clock. This time Glennon connected with second-round draft pick Adam Shaheen for a two-yard score. Now, this is where the hilarity ensues.
Just before halftime, the Steelers marched 43 yards on six plays in 0:43. Then, Chris Boswell lined up to attempt a 43-yard field goal, which was blocked by McManis and returned by Marcus Cooper all the way for a touchdown -- or so we thought. Cooper's lollygagging and premature celebration while approaching the goal-line allowed Steelers' tight end Vance McDonald to catch up and knock the ball out of his hands before breaking the plane and scoring the TD.
But luckily enough for the Bears, they got the ball back at the one-yard line after it was deemed that punter Jordan Berry batted the ball out of bounds intentionally.
Chicago's offense had a prime opportunity to punch in a touchdown. But in typical Bears fashion, they Bears'd it up. Charles Leno was flagged for a false start, which set his team back five yards and forced a field goal attempt instead. Conor Barth hit the 24-yard kick and gave the Bears a 17-7 lead going into the break.
The third quarter got off to a dreadful start. Both teams traded punts. Then, on the second play of the second drive of the half, Jordan Howard lost the ball and Ryan Shazier recovered. The Steelers capitalized on the Bears' mistake, moving 16 yards on six plays capped off by a Le'Veon Bell touchdown to cut Chicago's lead to 17-14. Following that drive, the Bears' offense stalled and punted the ball back after chewing up nearly seven minutes of clock.
Back on offense, the Steelers had the chance to take their first lead of the game. However, that never happened as they stalled out and punted back to the Bears. That was short-lived because three plays later Mike Glennon's pass intended for Zach Miller was intercepted. As a result, the Steelers tied the game at 17-17 on a field goal after the Bears defense held firm.
Next, neither offense mustered much and three consecutive punts occurred. Ultimately, the Steelers took a knee and the game went to overtime.
As luck would have it, the Bears won the toss and received the ball and never looked back. On the second play of overtime, rookie running back Tarik Cohen busted a run for 73 yards to score the game-winning touchdown. However, the referees marked him out of bounds back the Steelers' 37 yard-line. On the next plays, Jordan Howard popped of 18-yard and 19-yard runs to seal the deal. The Bears walked off the Steelers 23-17 in overtime.
The trilling overtime triumph gave the Bears their first win of the year. It also marked the Steelers' first loss of the season.
Two weeks later, the Bears pulled the plug on Mike Glennon and handed the offense over to rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Ultimately, the Bears finished 4-8 with Trubisky at the helm and 5-11 overall. However, there was a glimmer of hope with Trubisky that season which led to the Bears hiring Matt Nagy and revamping their offense for the 2018 campaign.
On the other side, Pittsburgh finished the season 11-2 following the loss to the Bears and 13-3 overall. But the Steelers' season came to an abrupt end when Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars beat them in the AFC Divisional round by a score of 45-42. In 2018, Le'Veon Bell held out the entire year which led to the emergence of RB James Conner. But the Steelers missed the playoffs and parted ways with Bell and Antonio Brown.