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Steelers force overtime before falling to Bears

Joe Rutter
| Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, 4:42 p.m.

CHICAGO — The Steelers weren't on the field while the national anthem played Sunday. Some would say they also weren't on the field when the game ended.

Despite rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit, the Steelers watched the Chicago Bears move effortlessly down the field on the first possession of overtime. Jordan Howard's 19-yard run on the fourth play of the extra session sent the Steelers to a 23-17 defeat at Soldier Field.

It was a deflating way to end a game that began with the Steelers remaining in the tunnel when the anthem was performed as a unified protest against President Donald Trump.

"I'm not going to sit here and call it a distraction," defensive end Cam Heyward said after the loss. "We stand by our choice, and we go on with life."

It was another road loss for the Steelers against a team with a losing record. They are 7-13 in such situations since the start of the 2012 season. They also are 5-10 in early-season road games against all competition dating to 2011.

Faced with the possibility of taking over sole possession of first place in the AFC North, the Steelers had two breakdowns on special teams that led to 10 points and a 17-7 halftime deficit. And despite entering the game with the NFL's eighth-best rushing defense, they allowed the Bears to run for 220 yards, with Howard accounting for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

"We just didn't perform," cornerback Joe Haden said. "(The anthem decision) didn't make us miss tackles, stuff like that. I don't think it had anything to do with it."

At least the Steelers weren't the only unbeaten division team to fall flat Sunday. The Baltimore Ravens were thrashed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, 44-7, in London. The Steelers travel to Baltimore next Sunday for a matchup of 2-1 teams.

"We've still got 13 other games," said guard Ramon Foster, who left in the first half with a left hand injury and did not return. "We're 2-1. There are teams that are 0-3. We'll be all right."

The Steelers will try to get their highly touted, supposed high-scoring offense on track after another middling performance. Ben Roethlisberger, playing much of the game without two starting linemen, passed for 235 yards and one touchdown but completed only 22 of 39 attempts and had an 82.7 passer rating.

Le'Veon Bell had 61 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 110 yards and a score. Yet the Steelers were held to their lowest scoring total of the season and are averaging 21 points through three weeks.

"I will take this game on me," Roethlisberger said. "I did not play well enough. I missed too many throws, did not make good reads … turned the ball over on a sack fumble. I cannot do that, so this one is on me."

The Bears did their best to give the game back to the Steelers. After Chicago blocked a field-goal attempt at the end of the first half, Marcus Cooper Sr. was running for an apparent touchdown when he pulled up short of the goal line. Vance McDonald knocked the ball loose, and it was punched out of the end zone by holder Jordan Berry.

After officials sorted out the confusion, the Bears kicked a field goal for a 17-7 lead that would have been 21-7 had Cooper crossed the goal line.

The Steelers rallied in the second half. In the third quarter, Ryan Shazier stripped Howard of the ball and recovered at the Bears 16. This led to Bell's 1-yard touchdown run.

J.J. Wilcox's interception of Mike Glennon at the Bears 21 with 8 minutes 57 seconds remaining led to Chris Boswell's 32-yard field goal that tied the score 17-17.

After yielding 114 rushing yards in the first half, the Steelers held the Bears in check in the second half.

Overtime was a different story.

The Bears ran the ball on all four plays. Tarik Cohen gained 36 yards on the second play, stepping on the sideline to wipe out what appeared to be a game-ending 73-yard touchdown run.

No matter. Howard peeled off the left end for 18 yards, putting the ball on the Steelers 19. He went through the left side of the Steelers defense on the next play and didn't stop until he reached the end zone.

Opponents had averaged 74 rushing yards against the Steelers through two games. And the Steelers allowed 237 total yards apiece to the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings, giving them the NFL's No. 3-ranked defense.

"If you're going to have over 100 yards rushing in the first half, you're going to have a lot of confidence," linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "You feel like you can do what you want, and I think that's how they felt. They kept testing our will to see if we could slow them down, and I guess we didn't do a good enough job."

Heyward was more succinct in his analysis.

"We got our (butts) kicked today," he said.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

Bears running back Jordan Howard beats the Steelers Mike Mitchell to the end zone to score the winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Steelers 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bears running back Jordan Howard beats the Steelers Mike Mitchell to the end zone to score the winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Steelers 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Eli Rogers reacts to a fumble recovered by the Bears' Sherrick McManis during a punt return in the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Eli Rogers reacts to a fumble recovered by the Bears' Sherrick McManis during a punt return in the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Bears running back Jordan Howard beats the Steelers Mike Mitchell to the end zone to score the winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Steelers 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bears running back Jordan Howard beats the Steelers Mike Mitchell to the end zone to score the winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Steelers 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Artie Burns during warm ups before playing the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Artie Burns during warm ups before playing the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Antonio Brown during warm ups before playing the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Antonio Brown during warm ups before playing the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Cameron Heyward during warm ups before playing the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Cameron Heyward during warm ups before playing the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Ben Roethlieberger leads the team out of the locker room after the National Anthem before a game with the bears the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Ben Roethlieberger leads the team out of the locker room after the National Anthem before a game with the bears the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Bears' Adam Shanheen pulls in a second-quarter touchdown pass against the Steelers Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Adam Shanheen pulls in a second-quarter touchdown pass against the Steelers Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Bears' Kyle Fuller defends on a pass intended for the Steelers Martavis Bryant in the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Kyle Fuller defends on a pass intended for the Steelers Martavis Bryant in the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Bears' Kyle Fuller defense a pass intended for the Steelers Antonio Brown in the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Kyle Fuller defense a pass intended for the Steelers Antonio Brown in the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Alejandreo Villanueva stood for the national anthem as the rest of the team stayed in the tunnel before the game against the Bears on Sunday.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Alejandreo Villanueva stood for the national anthem as the rest of the team stayed in the tunnel before the game against the Bears on Sunday.
The Steelers' Chris Boswell has his field goal attempt blocked by the Bears' Sherrick McManis in the scene quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Chris Boswell has his field goal attempt blocked by the Bears' Sherrick McManis in the scene quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Martavis Bryant can't hang on to a Ben Roethlisbeger pass on the first play of the game against the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Martavis Bryant can't hang on to a Ben Roethlisbeger pass on the first play of the game against the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws against  the Bears in the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws against the Bears in the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Bears' Marcus Cooper Sr. returns a blocked field goal against the Steelers in the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Marcus Cooper Sr. returns a blocked field goal against the Steelers in the second quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Eli Rogers fumbles a first-quarter punt against  the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Eli Rogers fumbles a first-quarter punt against the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Bears running back Jordan Howard beats Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier on the way to score the winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Steelers 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bears running back Jordan Howard beats Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier on the way to score the winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Steelers 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in sacked by the Bears Willie Young on the last play in regulation Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in sacked by the Bears Willie Young on the last play in regulation Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Bears running back Tarik Cohen avoids the Steelers' Mike Mitchell in the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bears running back Tarik Cohen avoids the Steelers' Mike Mitchell in the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Steelers' fans show their colors agains  the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers' fans show their colors agains the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Bears' Marcus Cooper Sr. defends on a pass intended for the Steelers' Antonio Brown in the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Marcus Cooper Sr. defends on a pass intended for the Steelers' Antonio Brown in the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Bears' Tarik Cohen leaps over his own man to avoid the Steelers' Ryan Shazier Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Tarik Cohen leaps over his own man to avoid the Steelers' Ryan Shazier Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Bears quarterback Mike Glennon avoids the Steelers Javon Hargrave first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bears quarterback Mike Glennon avoids the Steelers Javon Hargrave first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Bears' Tarik Cohen avoids Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Tarik Cohen avoids Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger wipes his face as misters blow cool air on the players as temps were in the 90s during the Bears Steelers game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger wipes his face as misters blow cool air on the players as temps were in the 90s during the Bears Steelers game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Ben Roetlisberger being misted on the bench as he looks at plays against  the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Ben Roetlisberger being misted on the bench as he looks at plays against the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Bears' Tarik Cohen flips on a fourth-quarter punt return agains the Steelers Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Tarik Cohen flips on a fourth-quarter punt return agains the Steelers Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speak with linebacker Ryan Shazier in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speak with linebacker Ryan Shazier in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Bears' Adam Shadeen (l) and Charles Leno Jr. celebrate with running back Jordan Howard after Howard game winning touchdown to beat the Steelers in overtime Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Adam Shadeen (l) and Charles Leno Jr. celebrate with running back Jordan Howard after Howard game winning touchdown to beat the Steelers in overtime Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by the Bears' Pernell McPhee in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Ill.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by the Bears' Pernell McPhee in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Ill.
The Bears' Marcus Cooper Sr. defends on a pass in the end zone intended for the Steelers' Antonio Brown in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Bears' Marcus Cooper Sr. defends on a pass in the end zone intended for the Steelers' Antonio Brown in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Ryan Shazier recovers a fumble by the Bears' Jordan Howard in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Ryan Shazier recovers a fumble by the Bears' Jordan Howard in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Bears running back Jordan Howard stiff-arms the Steelers J.J. Wilcox in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bears running back Jordan Howard stiff-arms the Steelers J.J. Wilcox in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' Cameron Heyward leaves the field after losing to the Bears in overtime 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Cameron Heyward leaves the field after losing to the Bears in overtime 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger avoids the Bears' Pernell McPee in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger avoids the Bears' Pernell McPee in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' B.J. Finney block for Ben Roethlisberger against the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' B.J. Finney block for Ben Roethlisberger against the Bears Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Bears running back Jordan Howard celebrates scoring the winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Steelers 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bears running back Jordan Howard celebrates scoring the winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Steelers 23-17 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers' cause Bears running back Jordan Howard to fumble in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' cause Bears running back Jordan Howard to fumble in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
The Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell leaps over the Bears' Kyle Fuller in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell leaps over the Bears' Kyle Fuller in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago Il.
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