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LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The tape of the Chicago Bears 23-17 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers is . . . interesting?
It is unusual at best to manage just 84 yards passing, convert only 4-of-12 third downs, fumble the ball five times, get intercepted once and commit 10 penalties for 73 yards and still upset one of the best teams in the NFL.
But then there were a lot of “interesting” things going on around the NFL over the third weekend of this NFL season, and that is exactly what the Bears did.
Mike Glennon was bailed out by his running backs as he struggled all day with the passing game and could easily have been picked two or three more times than the one he threw.
He appears to be regressing from his opening day performance against the Falcons, was a C – at best vs. Pittsburgh and it’s hard to imagine him keeping the starting job much longer unless he really starts to show up.
Jordan Howard was heroic playing through a shoulder injury and giving arguably his best performance as a Bear. Tarik Cohen is clearly a difference-maker and a big play waiting to happen. And even Benny Cunningham was big with three third-down catches, two of which went for first downs.
The running backs get an A-, the A for winning the game for the Bears and the minus for fumbles by both Howard and Cohen.
The Bears receivers get an F again, as they’re just not good enough, and in all fairness that is a big part of Glennon’s problems.
Josh Bellamy had a big block on Tarik Cohen’s 36-yard scamper to set up the winning score in overtime, and Deonte Thompson’s block sprung Howard for the touchdown two plays later so we credit them for that, but this time it was Markus Wheaton with the drops in his Bears debut against his old teammates.
The offensive line was a B mainly due to the versatility of Cody Whitehair, a highly impressive 2017 debut from Kyle Long at his old right guard spot and another strong emergency fill-in from Bradley Sowell at left guard.
The grade is lowered by Charles Leno, who has not started all that well this season. Sunday he took seven points off the board with a false start at the goal line after the Marcus Cooper fumble, forcing the Bears to kick a field goal rather than go for seven, and was caught holding at the Steelers 36 late in the third quarter and took the Bears out of field goal range.
With the Steelers' multiple weapons and array of Pro Bowlers, holding them to 282 yards of total offense and 17 points is a real feat no matter how much Pittsburgh pitched in.
There were no splash plays from Akiem Hicks this week, but the D-line was still a very solid B with Eddie Goldman, Mitch Unrein and Jonathan Bullard all very impressive plugging gaps and commanding double teams.
The linebackers were a B as well. Danny Trevathan was closer to 100 percent Sunday and is beginning to assert himself. Pernell McPhee had a huge sack in his new designated pass rusher role, and Willie Young provided some pressure.
The continuing lack of production from Leonard Floyd is disappointing but is in part about how Vic Fangio is using him as much as a lack of development.
Through 3 weeks, other than maybe Hicks, Kyle Fuller has been the best Bear on defense, and he had his best game against the Steelers.
Fuller has been the complete package against the run and the pass, and in spite of his special teams screw up, Marcus Cooper was solid in coverage, as was Prince Amukamara in his Bears debut.
I have to give the secondary a B+.
At the end of the day, when you think about it we’ve seen enough now to know, if the Bears can get healthy on the offensive line and find even an average passing game, they’re going to be tougher than anyone expected.