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A win is a win. However, not all wins should have to be treated the exact same.
The truth is that the Pittsburgh Steelers had to hold their collective breaths when the Chicago Bears attempted a potentially game-winning 65 yard field goal. They survived with a 29-27 win Monday at Heinz Field.
With three minutes left, the 3-6 Bears drove down the field quickly and took a lead. However, the Steelers made mistake after mistake to overcome them.
It is not uncommon for good teams to find a way win regardless of the circumstances. The Steelers won this game because of the Steelers' sloppy and uncoordinated play by the Bears, along with some help from officials.
In recent weeks, the path to victories has become a common trend. However, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is holding the franchise back more than he is elevating it.
The Steelers have greatly benefited from a favorable schedule that was littered with mediocre and faced major obstacles over the past month.
The Denver Broncos' game script in Week 5 was a disaster. It used a run-run-pass strategy that is reminiscent of the 1950s and slowed down modern offensive football. With a three-score lead in the second half, Pittsburgh was able to pull back Denver once Pat Shurmur, the Broncos' offensive coordinator, expanded the playbook and opened the passing game. The Broncos led by one touchdown and a two point conversion on the final drive. After driving the ball to Pittsburgh's 3 yard line, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater intercepted the ball.
Mike Tomlin's team hosted the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6. Wilson had injured his pointer finger while throwing the week before. The Steelers lost over 300 yards in offense despite Wilson's absence and required overtime to win. In fact, backup-turned-starter Geno Smith, who hadn't started a game since the 2017 campaign, posted a higher quarterback rating (99.6) than Roethlisberger (94.7).
Pittsburgh was now facing the battered Browns after the team had gone.
Baker Mayfield, runningback Karem Hunt, cornerback Denzel Wade, defensive end Takkarist MacKinley, standout rookie tackle Jeremiah Owusu–Koramoah, and wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. were either inactive before their release or had lingering injuries. Right tackle Jack Conklin also suffered a dislocated arm during the contest.
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Although injuries are part of the game, Cleveland has been hard hit, particularly with key contributors. However, with the game at stake, the Browns were able to get the ball within Pittsburgh's 35 yard line twice, but their wide receivers failed them with a fumble on a fourth-down play and a key drop. To take a 4th quarter lead, the Steelers needed an incredible end-zone reception on fourth down.
Monday's efforts received a little assistance.
The Bears have a terrible record of game-planning around their new quarterback. Matt Nagy and his team struggle to put Justin Fields in a place to succeed. Fields is a special player with the right system and time. He drove the Bears 75 yards in seven plays in less than three minutes. Chicago's offense ran 423 yards from the scrimmage.
The Bears made mistakes after mistakes, even though they weren't making any. Officially, Chicago was penalized 12 times for 112 yards. A team should not ever blame officials for a loss. A team can't make too many plays in an NFL game. This could lead to a different outcome. The Bears were severely handicapped by poor calls. Two sticks out like sore thumbs.
A fake pass-interference call made by Jaylon Johnson, cornerback, turned into a penalty of 30 yards. This completely flipped the field. Chris Boswell made a 54-yard field goal four plays later.
The Bears took Roethlisberger's job on 3rd-and-8 at 3:40 with a slim six-point lead. Officials called Cassius Marshall for taunting, as he looked at the opposite sideline. The penalty yardage resulted in the drive being halted and Cassius Marsh was charged with taunting because he stared at the opposing sideline.
Referee Tony Corrente explained that he saw the player run towards the Steelers bench after making a big play and then he posed in a way that made me feel he was taunting them.
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
It's hard to swallow a six-point swing in a tie that was decided by two points that were not scored until the last 30 seconds of the game.
Regardless of the outcome, the Steelers still hold the AFC North's best record.
Roethlisberger said after the game that "we're finding ways of winning the game." "We're doing enough. We're not great but we're doing enough offensively right now."
Perhaps others are doing enough on offense. Roethlisberger doesn't. Roethlisberger's limitations as an athlete and passer become more apparent every week. Big Ben is just as agile as his nameake, and it's not possible to fool anyone with his zone-read late into the game. It is also evident that the 39-year old quarterback still has issues pushing the ball downfield at any velocity. He was actually 25th in the league with an average of 6.8 yards per attempt going into Monday's match. He finished right at his average of 6.8 yards per try against the Bears (who didn't have Eddie Jackson or Khalil Mack on the field).
Because of the more challenging schedule, Pittsburgh will require a better Roethlisberger.
The Steelers will face the Los Angeles Chargers as well as the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Ravens (twice including Week 18), Minnesota Vikings and the Tennessee Titans. To stay on the right sidelines, the franchise may need every win it can muster during the middle part of the season.
The Steelers could win even if they lose. They might even make it to the playoffs. What does it really matter when this team seems destined to be thrown out of the first round. It's not the same thing as being a good team and finding ways to win against bad opponents. Pittsburgh may have done the former, but it is far from the latter.
Bleacher Report's NFL reporter Brent Sobleski is his. Follow Brent Sobleski on Twitter at @brentsobleski