Chicago Sun-Times

Film work: Examining four plays from Sunday's game

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Took a look at one play from each quarter of the game Sunday to examine what happened and the significance of the play.

First quarter

Pittsburgh fourth-and-goal from the Bears' 1

The formation: Pittsburgh had three tight ends and two backs. The Bears were in their heavy package with five linemen, four linebackers--Lance Briggs, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Nick Roach and Jamar Williams--cornerback Charles Tillman and free safety Danieal Manning.

The play: Ben Roethlisberger faked a handoff to running back Willie Parker, who was running left. Roethlisberger then bootlegged right with right guard Trai Essex pulling in front of him. There were just two receivers in the pattern, tight end Matt Spaeth dragging across the back of the end zone and running parallel to Roethlisberger, and tight end Heath Miller, who was lined up on the right side of the formation and just stopped after crossing the goalline. Spaeth, with Manning trailing him, was wide open for a touchdown pass.

The significance: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gambled early, especially when considering Pittsburgh was 31st in the league last season on third- and fourth-and-1. While it appeared Manning was at fault, Williams was responsible for Spaeth off the line of scrimmage. He was supposed to take an inside route there but stayed to check tight end David Johnson, who had come in motion. Johnson never entered the pattern, and Tillman was there as Johnson was his responsibility.

Second quarter

Bears third-and-3 from the Steelers' 10

The formation: Jay Cutler was in shotgun formation with wide receivers Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox wide right. Devin Hester was lined up to the left and tight end Greg Olsen motioned left before the snap with Adrian Peterson as a single back. The Steelers were in nickel.

The play: Cutler looked left from the start with Hester running an inside route and Olsen running a corner route. The Steelers stayed back to protect the end zone and Peterson was open in the flat, catching a pass at the 10 before turning upfield. Cornerback Ike Taylor closed to make the tackle, but Peterson had enough momentum to reach the 6 and pick up the first down.

The significance: While CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were surprised Matt Forte was not on the field, the Bears showed confidence in going with the veteran Peterson. They have committed to not use Forte as much as last season when he led all backs in the league by being on the field for 84 percent of his team's snaps. Sometimes that means not being on the field near the goalline. In this case, Peterson did his job well.

It should be noted, because we didn't work it in elsewhere, that Olsen slipped in the end zone on the previous play when he was open behind Ryan Clark and would have had an easy touchdown. Olsen planted his left foot and just went down. This was before the rain began to fall on the fresh sod. The sod didn't look particularly good from the press box, didn't look real good when I just re-watched portions of the game on television, however it didn't look bad on the surface when I examined it after the game. We'll see what the players have to say about it in the coming days. The nice thing is the Bears have two weeks until they are back to face Detroit, so it should look more uniform then.

Third quarter

Pittsburgh first-and-10 from the Bears' 41

The formation: As is often the case, the Steelers were in a three-receiver package with Miller at tight end and Illinois product Rashard Mendenhall as a single back. The Bears were in their nickel defense.

The play: Left guard Chris Kemoeatu pulled through a hole on the right side while right tackle Willie Colon and right guard Trai Essex worked a combination block on defensive tackle Israel Idonije. Kemoeatu knocked out fast arriving strong safety Al Afalava and then Colon came off the double team to block middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer. Mendenhall burst through the hole and the only thing that prevented him from a touchdown was a good angle by safety Kevin Payne, who shoved Mendenhall out of bounds at the 2.

The significance: Either Colon manhandled Hillenmeyer in wiping him out, or it was a holding penalty that was missed. Hillenmeyer complained to referee Scott Green to no avail. Does Brian Urlacher make the play? That's hard to say. When Colon gets his hands on a linebacker, he's going to win that battle most of the time whether he is holding or not, especially with a back passing at the same moment. Hillenmeyer was credited with four tackles and had a nice pass defense when he dropped in coverage, breaking up a pass Roethlisberger was trying to get over him to Santonio Holmes, who was open.

Fourth quarter

Bears third-and-four from the Steelers' 39

The formation: The Bears had three wide receivers with Hester and Bennett lined up left and Knox flanked to the right. Olsen motioned into the backfield as a fullback for Forte.

The play: Cutler faked a handoff to Forte, and Olsen went out into the left flat. Forte stayed in the backfield to block. Bennett ran a deeper route, and Hester turned around at five yards. Olsen had taken linebacker James Harrison with him. Linebacker James Farrior was originally following Bennett. Cornerback Ike Taylor slipped slightly when Hester cut off his route at the soft spot in the zone. Cutler made a low throw where it had to be and Hester cradled the ball for a first down.

The significance: Cutler and Hester knocked helmets together afterward in celebration. We've seen the quarterback and receiver on the wrong page, particularly in preseason. This was a play where Hester just needed to find the small window to get open and gain the necessary yardage and he did that. The quarterback and the receiver read the same thing, and it came with the offense not in field goal range and less than two minutes to play. What looked like a little dink and dunk play was important, and not just because it moved the chains. Cutler and Hester are growing together.

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Nice work, Brad. Should have mentioned the "give up" draw play when the Bears were down. Somebody tell Lovie you can't win a game when you score fewer points than the other team. The fact he got away with that one will haunt us later.

Nice game, it came right down to the end. I realize their probably crying in Steeler nation, saying things like "we didn't have Troy Polamalu" or "Chicago got lucky because our kicker missed twice," I say, the better team won. Yeah, the Steelers didn't have Polamalu, but Chicago didn't have Urlacher, and had four new starters on defense, think about that. Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed missed twice so it was just bad luck for Pittsburgh, I disagree. You miss one time, thats bad luck, twice, there's something wrong and you probably don't deserve to win. Think about it, Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed got two chances to put it away, Bears kicker Robbie Gould got only one chance, and he nailed it, the better team won.

The significance of this game, Chicago just beat their toughest opponent on this years schedule, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the defending super bowl champions. And did it with their quarterback, Jay Cutler. Yes folks, Cutler is as good as advertised. Cutler completed 71% of his passes, had two clutch td passes, and most importantly, zero ints. Oh yeah, and did it against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The scary thing, Cutler is only gonna get better.

How about rookie receiver Johnny Knox, this kid might be the real deal. Knox made some spectacular catches sunday, and seems to be catching on as an NFL receiver. If Knox can stay consistent, he could be this years find/steal of the draft. Also, you gotta like how second year tight end Kellen Davis looked, he seems to be coming on also. What do both Knox and Davis have in common, their both 5th round draft picks by Bears GM Jerry Angelo. I'm telling ya, Angelo is better at drafting than a lot of fans think, its really starting to show on offense with players like Knox, Davis, Forte, Olsen, Bennett, Hester and even Chris Williams, who didn't look bad yesterday. For the most part he did a pretty good job vs LaMarr Woodley, one of the leagues best pass rushers.

One more thing I'll throw out there, Alex Brown had two sacks yesterday. This marks the second week in a row a Bear defensive end has had 2 sacks. You gotta like what coach Rod Marinelli is doing with this unit. Oh yeah, I don't know about the rest of you guy's, but I laughed my a$$ off when Chad Ochocinco did the Lambeau leap during one of the early games. And with that, I say GO BEARS!!

What a game, what a game. Bears Baby!!! That's all I got. Also, ditto Kevin.

Marinelli appears to be making a huge difference in the play of the ends. Their speed off the ball, their footwork, and hand placement are all markedly improved this season vs. last season. That being said, Tommie Harris has all but disappeared so far this year. I saw after one of the big defensive plays, when he was jumping in the air to celebrate, and it was the only explosive thing he has done all year. He made one good play in the backfield on a running down, but I missed whether his man blocked down, or if he actually beat his guy.

Hillenmeyer will do an adequate job as the middle LB, but we are giving up way too many big plays in the run game. It seems like when we guess wrong on a play, we are very, very wrong. The running back is 10 yards downfield before they even have to make a cut.

Based on how we played from the 2nd quarter on, I am very pleased with what we can do as a complete team. We have a chance, and that's all we can ask for.

"""Angelo is better at drafting than a lot of fans think, its really starting to show on offense with players like Knox, Davis, Forte, Olsen, Bennett, Hester and even Chris Williams, who didn't look bad yesterday. For the most part he did a pretty good job vs LaMarr Woodley, one of the leagues best pass rushers."""

Having a 26-yr old probowl, franchise QB doesn't hurt either... Jay makes the players around him better, period... The O-line looked poor again but Jay has the abilitly to sense when pressure is coming and is elusive enough to avoid the pressure and still make plays downfiled... It didn't work out as well last week but against a better opponent, he stepped it up and made the plays that he left on the GB field last week.

Like you said, he will only get better as will the young players around him.... Kellen Davis is a monster target that needs to see more and more reps in the Offense, especially in the red-zone. Knox is comong along nicely and dare I say could become the #1 WR many said the Bears don't have on the roster ?? I know it's early but all he does is get open, catch the ball and makes a ton of YAC yards to boot. That's something we are not accustomed to around here.

All we need to do now is get the running game on track and we will have a complete team on Sunday's.

Go Bears !!

Actually if everybody would just watch Tommie Harris for just a few plays, and just Harris, you will notice he is doubled up on just about every play. I would take that as a compliment if I were him. I watched a few plays yesterday where he got doubled at the line and chipped by the rb. Teams are still worried about him. And that my fellow Bears fans is why you see some of the other linemen making plays.

Nice article Brad!

It's hard to see all you describe when one is squinting up at the screen in a sports bar. Reading about it later is very interesting.

Bears did what they had to do by beating the Steelers yesterday, big win for Lovie! I thought we got great effort from the defense especially after the first quarter drive that Ben ran to put them up by seven and our three and out 1st drive. They showed grit and pride, and hit with Pittsburgh even though they had the bigger hits in the game. The Olsen hit on the sideline was brutal.
Saw some young players make some key plays to keep us close, and "Big Paw" Brown had another of his memorable efforts. I'm sure he'll play next week, this guy may be undersized, but his heart makes up for it. Remember this kid came out of Florida with a reputation for being lazy, the scout that said that about him should be out of the league now. Kudow's to Jamar whose forced fumble on special teams sealed the victory, Knox played really well and seems to be a good route runner, Cutler spread the ball around again, and this bodes well for the Bears future, makes it hard for defenses to gear up and stop one player like the slackers did last week.
A lot of young guys stepped up in the game, Manning played well, Davis showed up at TE, and Bowman kept the passing game in check on his side of the field. Did not see much of HARRISON ON THE FIELD YESTERDAY, HE GOT ONE PRESSURE but was O'layed by Ben once he got there. I'm not as concered with the running game as most others until teams respect our ability to move the ball through the air they will continue to stack the line and try to keep Forte from doing his thing, we should be able to do something about it this week in Seattle. By the way great play call on the screen, even though he got stripped from behind I like Forte in that situation.Still a bit concerned about Tommie Harris, I watched him a lot yesterday and felt he is playing to high, standing up a lot instead of using his legs to drive through the offensive lineman, this allows them to control him and eliminate his pentration, which is the key to his game.
Now it's time to settle down and get some wins, still hoping for an 11-5 slate and playoff run this season.........Go BEARS

I hate to keep harping on it, but the playing surface at Soldier Field is like having Chicago's collective pants yanked down on national television. Pure embarrasement.

Think about it. On the same day that Dallas showcased their new $1.2 BILLION stadium, Chicago plays their FIRST GAME of the year on a field that is worse than 90% of the high school fields across the country.

If that were not bad enough, it is NOT EVEN A HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE. When they sod the field on Wednesday before the game, the Bears players don't know anything more about it than the Pittsburg players. Instead of Olsen being able to take a defender to a slippery spot he knows about and get open, he falls down.

Concerts and high school games are solvable problems. We are getting excuses, not reasons. There are technical solutions to making the field playable. All it takes is a little time, money, expertise, and "want to". Instead we get "Beevis and Butthead do da grass".

How many jokes about Chicago politics does it take to clean up this mess?

I think the big problem with the big running plays that they've been giving up this and last week is that they're losing Force on the backside. Too often the left end is getting hooked by the tackle and once the back sees that there's no gap to the frontside and the backside has been sealed it's an easy big gainer. I dont think it's currently a huge problem but I can imagine the Vikings taking a look at it and AP taking full advantage of the over-aggressiveness of the front 7.


I would disagree with you about the sod and home field advantage.

I strongly believe the team won yesterday because Jeff Reed could not plant properly on the turf. If you look at the replays, he slid ever so slighting on each attempt to the left when he attempted to plant.

Reed isn't going to the Hall, but he is a very, very good kicker. Those attempts were awful for a reason, and it wasn't just stress.

Gould, on the other hand, had no such problems, likely because he has probably gotten use to the sod issues on the field.


OK maybe, but Pittsburg plays on a grass field in winter. Reed knows how to kick in bad conditions. He's just not as good as Gould.

I think Robbie Gould could kick a forty yarder off a skating rink through a hurricane. That's not really as much a home field advantage as it is just a plain ol' advantage.

Did you catch the Cardinal/Cub game last night? That game was played on an immaculate field with a pattern of the Gateway Arch mown into the outfield grass. The clear message portrayed was that this is a big league game in a venue hosted by a classy organization.

Yesterday afternoon NFL Network showed somebody in a ratty coat and rubber boots, probably Butthead, out on the field dumping green dirt out of a five gallon bucket trying to cover the bald spots at Soldier Field. The announcers were making snide comments about the field in Chicago.

Do the math. I love Chicago and that field is embarrassing.

Where's HITMAN?

Not only did we beat the Steelers, Tom Harkin. But we're going to go and win in Seattle!

Beat Detroit!

We're going to Atlanta!

We're gonna go to Cincinatti!

San Francisco!



And then we're going to Miami and we're gonna takeback the Super Bowl!


I love lesbians...BEEYAH!

It's so nice to know we can beat a great defensive team without much of a running game to show for! We'll have to do this against Minnehaha and the "illegal substance" wall. Cutler is worth every penny and every draft pick we can give out! BEAR DOWN!! Is "Moose" still alive or did he go to Carolina and die with that loser Delhomey?


You're probably right about Reed slipping on the turf, but the notion that the Bears had some type of advantage is ridiculous.

PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYERS - including Place-Kickers - have been playing in poor conditions their entire careers. If the Steelers played in a dome, then you might have an argument. But not really, because dome teams have an advantage of playing 8 games in perfect conditions.

It's even baby. There was no advantage.

I feel Robbie made that field goal cause he knew the field and (Steeler) missed cause he did not, thats an advantage Bears. Might not seem like much, I also felt the Steelers WR were slipping more than the Bears. Any one else notice the Steelers started dropping passes etc..after the rain hit? Not as much as Da Bears. Not to discredit us as we played a great game, especially liked our DB! Hester once again had a great catch, He was open on one play down field - I don't think Jay is looking his way as much now.
Yes, I feel the jury is still out on Tommie, I will rewatch this game for the 3rd time! and watch TH.

Read your last comment after I wrote this MS, yes, I draft Gould EVERY year in FF cause he is just plain good! But I do feel he had the advantage this day due to surface. Could be wrong, I tried to see the slip of the feet on the Steeler kicks, did not see it, but I will look again as that is what I was looking for. Gotta love recording in HD!

Oh yeah, and what about kickin the idiot out of the game that hit Olsen!! I see a big fine there. WTF is going on? I thought that was illegal? Olsen could have been paralyzed!

Kevin your still blind to Angelo draft picks, Williams has not looked good. The whole O-Line has looked bad. Turner is using a quick 3 step drop and shotgun to help out Cutler. The O-Line can't run block and does not hold up long in pass blocking, Cutler is using his feet and smarts to help them out as well.

The Bears D-Line has yet to face a good O-Line PIT and GB are among the worst O-Lines in football.

As for the Cutler Bashers. I told you.

As for PackerBacker. HAHAHAHAHAHAH, THE BUNGLES???????

Olsen looks a little soft, he kept looking for the hit. He has not looked all that special through two games.

Bennett and Hester look Average at best through two games, Knox looks like he has talent.

Kevin sense you feel the Bears O-Line is very good, explain Forte. Is Forte bad or is the line bad? Either way you are loosing an argument on an Angelo Draft pick.

Quest fields legendary 12th man will test the Bears more than anyone thinks. SEA is not that good, but the Bears offense has not been together long enough to know how eachother think. Noise had a lot to do with communication problems and the loss in GB.

Has Wolfe been demoted? Cause I think AP is the number two back again and Wolfe is another wasted draft pick.

Kellen Davis had a better game than Olsen, but that means little, one good game means little.

Both the offense and defense look average, not bad, not great, but decent. The Bears will be similar to what they where last year. It should be a two team race between the Queens and the Bears.

Oh and good for Singletary. I hate the 9ers, but good for him.

Moose is alive and well and gained over 900 yards last season; pretty good for a dead moose, right.

Great win for the Bears against a very tough opponent. A couple of missed FGs and some opportune penalties on the Steelers really helped, but that's all part of the game.

The first catch by Knox was really impressive; I think it was the same route he had trouble with during the preseason, and in GB. In traffic, a pass with some mustard on it, high in the air, he snatched it clean with his hands; that was impressive. The Bears' version of Eddie Royal or DeSean Jackson? But I think opponents are going to start taking him more seriously, and I say we should be ready to accept those inevitable rookie mistakes that he will make this year, and we should be patient with him. And I still want to see Aromashodu in there too.

On the 3rd play mentioned by Brad, I thought Colon had held; he had both hands on Hillenmeyer's shoulder pads, and twisted him to the ground. But I doubt Hillenmeyer would've been able to make the tackle anyway with Colon in between him and Mendenhall. I read that the coaches were giving Hillenmeyer good grades, but I'm not so sure. He's a smart veteran, looks to be communicating well, and is a dependable performer, but shedding blocks and flying to the ball to make plays isn't his strong suit. I like him better at SAM. I don't think Roach and Williams faired any better, and I think when guys try to do too much because they're unsure if the guy next to them is going to make the play, that's when opponents will start to break big running plays off of you. Can't wait to see how they do against the Seahawks.

Manning at FS, I don't know. He recorded some tackles but he didn't make an impression on me. Maybe you guys saw some things that I missed and can share it here.

The D-line play was okay. They did not get as much pressure on the QB as I thought they would, but that has something to do with the blitzing LBs too.

The O-line play was a little better than the GB game, but I'm still seeing little push up the middle. But then again, this was the Steelers. If they can't get it done against the Seahawks, who gave up over 200 yards rushing against the 49ers, then I'd say the O-line is in trouble.

Forte is a great RB no doubt, but with the O-line not being able to open holes, I think Forte oughta occasionally take a page from Peterson's book and hit the line full speed, hole or no hole. Being too patient will simply let a good defense pursue the play. I like Peterson's hard running style (how about that 15 yard burst!) and Wolfe's quickness. They're both good change of pace guys, and I think it will be good for both to get a few carries during each game. Come on Ron, be creative.

I actually thought the offensive play calling was much better. Forte and Peterson had 7 catches between them, and I would've given them more, and I thought that was good play calling against a heavy blitzing team. That last swing pass to Forte, if not for that fumble, could've been a real game-breaker.

Gould, Gould, Gould. Gould Bears! Sorry for the long post.

Yeah, I def. saw the foot slip both times. Just slid a little bit into the kick.
Who knows, and Reed never kicked at Soldier Field before, but rewatching - I feel Tillman was the game winner. That was a tip. It woulda been a TD no doubt. Then it would have been the length, so I really think Tillman was the man.

There was only one Tommie Harris sighting and Wale was out of position several times being caught inside not holding the edge. Hillenmeyer was serviceable but easily blocked no POA strength. When we run into real O-lines like Minnesota, Atlanta and Denver then we will see just how weak they are. By then maybe Harris will be on the PUP list like he should. This team is putting it's eggs in a damaged basket. Did anyone else see him limping in pursuit last week? Harris is not healthy needs second opinion and looks as if career is over.

Randy - I TOTALLY feel you on the helmet-to-helmet crack on Olsen. Why do the Steelers get treated differently? That was blatant.

As for the field being an advantage to Chicago. No. No. No.

You can't get to the pro-level without kicking money-shots on a multitude of surfaces and conditions. He had plenty of time during pregame to test the sod. He missed twice. He slipped - yes, but that's his freakin' problem and he should have made an adjustment after the first miss.

There was no advantage. Again, if Reed was a dome kicker, I might listen to the argument. But he plays in the AFC North, has kicked in poor, slippery conditions, and had an opportunity to test the sod during pregame.


No advantage Bears.

On Tommie, the D-Line is playing well - he is the key - therefore we must conclude that he is playing well.

On Forte, the defenses have decided to key on Forte until Cutler and the passing game beats them. Steelers lost that bet.

On AP - he should get the time that Jones would have. I don't know about Wolfe. Not impressed

On Olsen hit - If there is no fine, somebody ought to write to the league and ask why

On long runs - aggressive defenses sometimes get beaten, and sometimes they beat you. I prefer that to a passive defense, and I think the Bears didn't give up too many big plays against Steelers.

On Knox - defenses are stacking the line on Forte, putting a safety on Hester and rotating help against Olsen - Knox should be open and Cutler should find him. If teams start to cover Knox, then something else has to give. This is a matter of "pick your poison". If I'm a defensive coordinator, I will probably try to stop what the Bears want to do most first (Forte/Olsen/Hester). Over the season, they should all do well.


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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on September 21, 2009 7:18 AM.

Quick takes on the Bears' 17-14 victory over Pittsburgh was the previous entry in this blog.

Lovie says Alex Brown should check out fine with ankle sprain is the next entry in this blog.

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