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There's plenty of culprits to blame for Steelers' loss

| Monday, Sept. 21, 2009

At the beginning of Sunday's game, with the Steelers' opening possession in the shadow of their own goal post, they employed a three-wide receiver set.

On third-and-short, when the Steelers needed to pick up a first down, they played three receivers.

During crunch time, when the Steelers needed to move the ball, they had three receivers on the field.

Get the picture?

That break from tradition isn't why the Steelers suffered their first loss of the season, 17-14, to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

Who was that man disguised as kicker Jeff Reed anyway?

Normally reliable under pressure, Reed's two missed field goals in the fourth quarter on a wet and loose playing surface were the difference in a game the Steelers carelessly let slip away.

"Of course, this is uncharacteristic of him," Mike Tomlin said in what may have been his shortest postgame news conference as Steelers coach. "He just kicked the game-winner in overtime last week, and that's what we're used to. We aren't used to what happened to him today."

Strange things happened to the Steelers against the Bears. And not because it seemed like offensive coordinator Bruce Arians ran more three-receiver sets than the pass-happy New Orleans Saints.

Just kidding. No team runs more three-receiver sets than Drew Brees' Saints. But give the Steelers a gold star for trying.

No, there were fingerprints from all corners of the locker room after this loss.

How about the defense giving up three costly scoring drives against a Chicago offense that sputtered a week earlier against a Green Bay defense in its first year of playing a 3-4 alignment borrowed from the Steelers?

That final drive led to Robbie Gould's 44-yard game-winning field goal with 15 seconds remaining.

"We felt like we had an opportunity to finish the game out," linebacker James Farrior said of the Steelers blowing a 14-7 lead in the fourth quarter. "We had the lead and let them come back. That's very disappointing as a defense."

Not only did Chicago rookie receiver Johnny Knox beat strong safety Tyrone Carter for a 7-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter that made the score 14-14, Carter was beaten as Troy Polamalu's replacement.

Now Carter has to hear all week about how the Steelers' secondary is in trouble because Polamalu will be sidelined at least two more games with a knee injury.

"I should have called timeout," said Carter, who injured his left thigh after breaking up a pass for tight end Greg Olsen in the second quarter. "Because of my leg I couldn't move. I was just out there. I think I kind of hurt my teammates by either not coming out of the game or calling timeout."

You think?

And there was Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes explaining what appeared to be his drop of a potential touchdown pass against Bears cornerback Charles Tillman late in the game that would have given the Steelers a 21-7 lead.

"I saw the tip of the ball. That's all I was watching the whole time," said Holmes, who had five receptions for a game-high 83 yards but allowed three catchable balls to slip through his fingers. "I put my hands in the right (position). When I thought the ball was landing, (Tillman) got his hands up at the last second and nudged the ball, and it fell between my arms."

One play later, Reed missed a field goal.

Eight plays after that, Gould put Chicago ahead for keeps.

After fumbling away a win, Sunday's game at Cincinnati can't arrive soon enough for the 1-1 Steelers.

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