Game 3 matchup: Steelers vs. Bears



When the Bears have the ball: Marc Trestman was brought in for one reason: Turn Jay Cutler into the winning QB the Bears hoped he would be. In two games, Cutler has rallied the Bears to victory in the fourth quarter. Trestman is trying to get him to be more consistent, and Cutler has done a good job of getting the ball out quicker or stepping up to avoid pressure. He also has a number of tall receivers, most notably Brandon Marshall (6-5, 230), who is a matchup problem because of his size and speed. He will be shadowed by CB Ike Taylor, who held A.J. Green to six catches for 41 yards Monday night. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216), TE Martellus Bennett (6-6, 265) and RB Matt Forte (6-2, 218) are starters who also provide big targets for Cutler. Forte is one of the most complete backs in the league. He leads the team in rushing (140 yards), is tied for the team lead in catches (15) and appears to do everything well. The Bears have four new starters on the offensive line, including two rookies on the right side -- tackle Kyle Long and guard Jordan Mills.

When the Steelers have the ball: Even with a new coordinator (Mel Tucker), the Bears' defensive schemes are largely unchanged. They still try to pressure the pocket with their defensive line, especially DE Julius Peppers, and aggressively play the ball with Pro Bowl CBs Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. Peppers has 1111/2 sacks since 2002, third most in the league. But the Bears have just two sacks in two games and have not had much pressure on the pocket. Meantime, Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked seven times. Tillman had two INTs in the opener against the Bengals and has 35 for his career, including a club-record eight for touchdowns. Jennings has an INT, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. The heart of the defense, though, is outside linebacker Lance Briggs, 32, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection in his 11th season with the team. He is filling the emotional and leadership role left vacant by the departure of Brian Urlacher.

Keep an eye on:

K Robbie Gould ... He is the third most accurate kicker in NFL history, having converted 210 of 245 field-goal attempts (85.7 percent), including 11 in a row from 50 yards or longer. That streak ties an NFL record. Gould, a Penn State graduate, had a franchise-long 58-yarder in the season opener against the Bengals. With 915 career points, Gould ranks second in team history behind Kevin Butler (1,116).

Intangibles

The Bears have come back in the fourth quarter to win their first two games against Cincinnati and Minnesota, showing resiliency. But this is their first game on the road. They have lost four of their past five games, including three in a row, in Pittsburgh. Their only game in Heinz Field was a 21-9 defeat in December 2005. The Bears and Steelers have been playing since 1934, with Chicago holding a 20-7-1 edge. However, the series is split 5-5 since 1971. The Steelers and Bears have never met in a prime-time game. The Steelers have not started 0-3 since the 2000 season. That is also the last time they lost their first two games at home.

To win, the Bears must ...

1. Get a big day from Jay. Cutler is completing 68 percent of his passes and has two fourth-quarter comebacks in two games.

2. Apply Pepper(s) to their (Roethlis)burger. The sack-happy defensive end will create a busy day for LT Mike Adams.

3. Play tall ball. Cutler will try to create mismatches with any number of their big receivers down the field.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Brand Marshall. He will be a priority for the Steelers secondary and, in particular, Ike Taylor, who traditionally gets the opposition's top receiver.

2. Nix the picks. Tillman and Jennings are a pair of ball-hawking corners who challenge throws and go for the interception.

3. Guard the Fort(e). The Bears running back does everything well and is the stabilizing force of the offense.

Steelers

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com; Twitter: @gerrydulac First Published September 22, 2013 4:00 AM


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