Pittsburgh Steelers History vs Chicago Bears

The Pittsburgh Steelers history vs the Chicago Bears is long and rather tortured for Pittsburgh, dating back to 1934, with the Steel City suffering a 7-21-1 record against Windy City. The founders of both franchises, Art Rooney Sr. and George Halas are both members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While the lopsidedness of the Steelers history vs. the Bears might be due to Pittsburgh’s ineptness during the pre-Chuck Noll era, Pittsburgh’s record in Chicago remains a woeful 1-12.

This chronicle of Steelers history vs the Bears only goes back 31 years that have seen Pittsburgh square off against Chicago 8 times. Indeed, a see-saw dynamic characterizes recent Steelers-Bears history, with the Steelers seem to celebrate glorious victories or agonizing defeats, with very little in between.

Either scroll down or click on the links below to relive key moments in the Pittsburgh Steelers history vs. the Chicago Bears:

Steelers history vs bears, Steelers vs. bears, Antonio Brown, Charles Tillman

Antonio Brown catches a touchdown in front of Charles Tillman of the Bears. Photo Credit: Jason Bridge, USA Today

1986 – Ditka Takes the Wind over the Ball in OT

November 30, 1986 @ Solider Field
Chicago 13, Pittsburgh 10

The 4-8 Steelers gave the defending Super Bowl Champion Bears a run for their money, even though they did not score an offensive touchdown. But that was good enough to force overtime when…

Iron Mike elected to kickoff, trusting in the wind and his defense. The Bear’s defense vindicated their coach, forcing a punt and setting up Kevin Butler’s winning kick.

  • Fun Fact: The Steelers only touchdown came in the third quarter on a fake field goal from Harry Newsome to tight end Preston Gothard.

1989 – Steelers Suffer Third Shut Out of Season

November 11, 1989 @ Three Rivers Stadium
Chicago 20, Pittsburgh 0

Aliquippa native Mike Dikta gave himself a hell of a home coming during the only game he coached at Three Rivers Stadium. His Bears netted 6 turnovers, wracked up 203 rushing yards, and held Pittsburgh to 54 rushing yards during their 20-0 shut out.

1992 – Cowher’s Achilles Heel or Mike Singletary’s Final Game in Chicago?

December 13, 1992 @ Solider Field
Chicago 30, Pittsburgh 6

Rookie head coach Bill Cowher‘s 1992 Pittsburgh Steelers had taken the NFL by storm. They traveled to Chicago with a 10-3 record and a chance to clinch their first AFC Central Title since 1984. Cowher Power had rejuvenated the Steelers.

  • The sky was the limit. Or was it?

The Cowher’s Steelers fell flat on their faces. And then the Bears stomped all over them, to the tune of 30-6. Barry Foster ran 12 times for 25 yards. The Bears sacked Bubby Brister 5 times and picked him off twice. Worst of all, Pittsburgh looked lethargic and unfocused.

NBC commentator Bill Parcells attributed the result to the emotional surge occasioned by Mike Singletary’s final game in Chicago, sharing something to the effect, “I was in the Bear’s locker room prior to the game, and this was a team clearly ready to play.”

  • Cowher’s Admission: During Cowher’s early tenure, over confidence was his Steeler’s chronic Achilles heel. Cowher would perhaps dispute this general observation, but a number of years later he admitted that the 1992 game against the Bears was one of the few times the team had not been mentally prepared to play.
Greg Lloyd, Rashan Salaam, Pittsburgh Steelers history vs Chicago Bears, Steelers vs Bears

Greg Lloyd closes in on the Bears Rashan Salaam in the Steelers 1995 over the Bears. Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images via the Bleacher Report

1995 – Steelers Streak to the Super Bowl, Vol. I – Super Bowl XXX

November 5th, 1995
Pittsburgh 37, Chicago 34

The 1995 Steelers started 3-4, and looked ugly doing it. After a particularly egregious loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Bill Cowher declared it was now a “9 game season.” Having beaten the Jaguars in week 8, they traveled to Chicago to take on the 6-2 Bears.

  • This was one of the most exciting games the Steelers have every played.

The lead changed 5 times and the score was tied 3 times as the Steelers and Bears fought back and forth in this titanic struggle.

Hope faded for the Steelers when Barry Minter returned an interception to put the Bears up 34 to 27 late in the fourth. But Neil O’Donnell rebounded, taking the Steelers the length of the field capping off the drive with a 11 yard strike to Ernie Mills to tie it up just inside the two minute warning.

Cowher seemed ready to gamble it all when he sent in the 2 point conversion unit, forcing the Bears to burn their final time out. The Steelers kicked the extra point instead, and Willie Williams picked off Eric Kramer in OT, to set up Norm Johnson’s game winning field goal.

  • Cowher’s Quote: When asked if such a dramatic victory might have been a character building exercise for his recently struggling Steelers, Cowher’s response was concise and correct – “Games like this do not build character, they display it.”

That character carried the Pittsburgh Steelers to Super Bowl XXX

1998 – Steelers Start season 2-0, But…

September 13, 1998 @ Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh 17, Bears 12

The 1997 Steelers had finished 11-5 and only two Kordell Stewart goal line interceptions away from the Super Bowl. They’d beaten the Ravens 20-13 the week before, but had not looked good doing it.

The Steelers defeated the Bears 17-12 on the strength of Jerome Bettis 131 years rushing.

  • Cause for concern: Kordell Stewart went 17-30-1-1. Not bad numbers, but he only threw for 137 yards and was only 4-4 rushing. Whether it was because Ray Sherman didn’t know what he was doing, or a lack confidence, but this was the beginning of a tentative and timid Stewart, as opposed to the swashbuckling Slash that Steelers fans had seen before.

2005 – Steelers Streak to the Super Bowl, Vol. II Super Bowl XL

December 11, 2005 @ Heinz Field
Pittsburgh 21, Chicago 9

The Bears were coming off an 8 game winning streak. Despite their 7-5 record, the Steelers were coming off a 3 game losing streak, and looking at the possibility of needing to run the table to make the playoffs. The Steelers were up to the task, as the Bus led the march that ended with One for the Thumb in Super Bowl XL.

Jerome Bettis, Brian Urlacher, Steelers vs. Bears, '05 Steelers

Jerome Bettis shows Brian Urlacher who is boss

The Steelers totally dominated the Bears in the snow at Heinz Field. Jerome Bettis ripped off 101 yards as he plowed through Brian Urlacher and the Bears defense. Willie Parker was close behind him with 68 yards. Ben Roethlisberger hit seven different receivers, as the Steelers out gained the Bears by almost 100 yards, and dominated time of possession to the tune of 37:19 to 22:41

  • Bettis Final 100 Yard Game: This was Bettis’ 50th 100 yard game with the Steelers, a team record. It was also to be the Bus’ final 100 yard effort, and he gained all but one of them in the second half. He also scored 2 TD’s for the 16th time in his career, which brought him to 4th on the Steelers all-time scoring list.

2009 – Super Bowl Champion Steelers Slip, Signal Things to Come…

September 20th, 2009 @ Solider Field
Chicago 17, Pittsburgh 14

The defending Super Bowl Champions had won their opener doing what they had done during the previous season – snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. But this trip to Solider Field showed that things would not be so easy for the 2009 Steelers.

The Steelers got on the board quickly with a clockwork like opening drive engineered by Ben Roethlisberger. But Roethlisberger threw an interception and he was off after that, overthrowing and underthrowing receivers and throwing balls that were either too low or two high. Ben Roethlisberger had help however,

Despite that, the Steelers hung in and appeared to be set to repeat history – pull out a win at the last moment.

Unfortunately Jeff Reed missed a long field goal, giving Chicago a victory. Unlike their ’08 brethren, this was to be the first of many last minute losses for the ’09 Steelers….

2013 – Bears Pass Rush Overwhelms Steelers en Route to 0-3 Start

September 22, 2013 @ Heinz Field
Chicago 40, Bears 23

Sometimes single tweet says it all. That’s the case with this Dale Lolley gem that still resonates long after the Steelers 2013 loss to Chicago:

  • That might seem like a harsh exaggeration, but rest assured my fellow citizens of Steelers Nation, it is not.

The 2013 Steelers entered the game at 0-2, yet both of those games had some extenuating circumstances (such as losing 3 starters in their opener to the Tennessee Titans.) But this was the height of the Mike Adams experiment on offensive line and, truth be told, the jury was still very much out on Marcus Gilbert at that point.

Ben Roethlisberger barley had time to breath, let along throw that night, as the Steelers signal’s turnovers directly led to two Bear’s touchdowns. Chicago jumped to a 27-3 lead, until a Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown hookup evened the score to 27-10 at the half.

  • The Steelers opened the 2nd half by 13 unanswered points to bring it to 27-23 by the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Alas, a Jay Cutler scramble on 3rd and 10 gave Chicago new life, and set up a score. The Steelers tired to match, but a Roethlsiberger fumble was returned to Pittsburgh’s six yard line and the Steelers started 2013 0-3.

 

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Steelers vs. Packers History – Tales from the NFL’s Two Most Storied Franchises

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers are the NFL’s two most storied franchises. The latter defined winning and excellence in the 1960’s; the former defined the term “Dynasty” for the NFL in the 1970’s. Both franchises were fortunate to hit their respective peaks as the NFL was coming of age.

Yet, due to the conference and division realignment which followed the NFL-AFL merger, these two teams have seldom faced off.

In fact, in the last 20 years, the teams have only met four times, but those meetings have contributed much to the lore of both franchises, including:

Bill Cowher Reveals Himself as a Head Coach
Steelers So Close, Yet So Far
Look What Happens When You Try to Get Smart
Never Under Estimate the Importance of Back Ups
Rookie Mike Wallace is a 60 Minute Man Too
Steelers Fall Short in Quest for 7

Below, you can find a recap of each of those encounters.

Bill Cowher Reveals His Identity as a Head Coach
9/17/92 @ Lambeau Field, Packers 17, Steelers 3
History will long remember this game as Brett Favre’s first NFL start. Conversely, it was also Rod Woodson’s career worst and Bill Cowher’s first loss.

Although the words “Hall of Fame” and “Rod Woodson” were already being collocated in 1992, Woodson fell flat in almost every conceivable way possible on this day.

If you have a strong stomach for memories you’d rather forget, you can watch the game summary from NFL Prime Time.

For Steelers fans the significance of this game is in what Bill Cowher revealed about himself.

Near the end of the game Cowher approached Woodson. Rod turned away fearing a tongue lashing. Instead, Cowher consoled him, saying that “You’ve had a bad day at he office. When that happens, you don’t quit the job, you analyze what went wrong and bounce back.”

Steelers fans loved Cowher for his fire, brimstone and in your face bravado, but…

  • …in his first loss as a head coach, The Chin showed that he was a head coach who was smart enough to know when to kick a player in the a_s, and when to pat him on the back.

Steelers So Close, Yet So Far
12/24/95, @ Lambeau Field, Packers 24, Steelers 19

The Steelers playoff position was set, while the Packers still had something to play for. Bill Cowher benched many starters – Fred McAfee and Steve Avery were the Steelers starting backfield.

Yet this was a hard-fought, knock down drag out game. Kevin Greene hit Brett Favre so hard that he appeared to be coughing up his brains at one point. Jim McMahon did come in for a few snaps, but Favre refused to stay out long.

The Steelers second string almost pulled it off, as Yancy Thigpen dropped a sure touchdown pass as time expired.

  • It was a metaphor for things to come as the Steelers took Dallas to the brink in Super Bowl XXX, until Neil O’Donnell threw it away…

Look What Happens When You Try to Get Smart…
11/9/98 @ Three Rivers Stadium, Steelers 27, Packers 20

Kordell Stewart and the entire Steelers offense had suffered and struggled under Ray Sherman’s offense all season. That seemed to change on Monday Night Football as Steelers amassed a 27-3 lead in the first three quarters.

As the fourth quarter began, Pittsburgh appeared poised to make it 34-3, until Sherman decided to get cute on the goal line. Sherman thought it would be smart to revive Slash, and sent Mike Tomzack under center with Kordell lining up as a receiver. All went well, until the snap….

A bobbled exchange leads to a fumble, which Keith McKenzie returns 88 yards for a touchdown. The Packers score 17 unanswered points, but Pittsburgh holds on.

  • The moral of the story there is that trick plays can give an already efficient offense a lethal edge, but they can be just as lethal for a struggling unit.

Never Under Estimate the Importance of Back Up
11/6/05 @ Lambeau Field, Steelers 20, Packers 10

Ben Roethlisberger is out, so is Jerome Bettis. Willie Parker suits up, but only lasts for 5 carries. But Bill Cowher a deep bull pen to fall back on. Charlie Batch starts, and while his numbers aren’t pretty, he avoids critical mistakes.

But the star of the day is Duce Staley, who gets his first carry of the year that day, and adds a total of 14 more for 76 yards and including a long run of 17 and a touchdown. He also catches to passes for nine yards.

  • As Bill Cowher said the day Pittsburgh released Stanley, “If we don’t have Duce, we don’t win that game. If we don’t win that game, we don’t make the playoffs, and never get to Super Bowl XL.”

The Steelers signed Duce Staley to a generous contract in 2004, and he only ended up playing 16 games over three season. But in the end, it was money well spent.

This Wallace is a 60 Minute Man Too
12/20/09 @ Heinz Field, Steelers 37, Packers 36

This installment of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Packers had been billed as the battle of the defensive titans, as the two teams were leading the league in defense. To add an exclaimation point, it pitted Dick LeBeau vs. Dom Capers, the two architects of the Steelers defense of the 1990’s.

But it was anything but a defensive struggle.

The Steelers and Packers combined for 936 yards and the lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter as Aaron Rodgers passed for 383 yards. Ben Roethlisberger did him better, however, passing for 503 yards and in doing so only becoming only the 10th NFL signal caller to break the half-century mark.

Hines Ward and Heath Miller both broke the 100 yard mark, but the star of the game was Steelers rookie of the year Mike Wallace. Wallace bookended his game with touchdown catches. Taking his first pass for 60 yards to the end zone, and he did it again with his last pass, hauling in a 19 yard grab with 0:03 seconds remaining.

Stairway to Seven Will Have to Wait

And that brings us to Super Bowl XVL and the Steelers ill-fated quest for Lombardi Number Seven.

The Steelers made some early mistakes and, as Mike Tomlin, ever the class act, insisted, the Packers made some tremendous plays that put the Steelers deep in a hole.

The men in Black and Gold fought back furiously and were alive until the game’s final minute. But, when the final gun sounded, the Packers simply showed themselves to be the better team and, to their credit, the Steelers acknowledged as much.

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Assessing Mike Tomlin: The Quest for Objectivity

Some have asked why Steel Curtain Rising’s 2007 season “Tomlin: Glass Half Empty-Glass Half full” post-mortem did not appear until recently. The simple reason is that making an objective assessment of Mike Tomlin is damm difficult for me.

Understanding why requires understanding that I tirelessly defended Bill Cowher through the dark days of 1998-1999, the heart rendering AFC Championship losses, and the gut wrenching 2003 season.

In evaluating Tomlin’s first year, I am torn by this penchant for loyalty, wanting to recognize the positives, and wondering if I am overreacting to some brutally apparent caution flags.

That Cowher’s rookie record was almost identical to Tomlin’s only adds to the irony.

  • Cowher finished 11-5, Tomlin 10-6. Both lost in the fist round of the playoffs.
  • Cowher’s squad was blown out, Tomlin’s lost a heart breaker, but the 1992 Steelers were a 1# seed, and the #4 seed in 2007.
  • Both started out 3-1.

Both suffered also their first losses to inferior opponents (Cowher to the Browns, then led by the then “bumbling” Bill Belichick, Tomlin to a Cardinals team who was rotating its quarterbacks by series.)

Cowher’s team did finish the season at 2-2, and while that’s better than 1-3, on the back half of the 1992 season Cowher’s teams needed some last minute heroics to overcome such 1992 light weights as the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks.

Indeed, both men were embarrassed by weak teams. The memory of the beloved Black and Gold giving away games to the Jets and Broncos in the final two minutes sears. But so does the one of Steelers falling flat on their faces in a week 15 game against a Chicago Bears team that ultimately finished 6-10. (This was a national TV game, and one where the league seemed ready to anoint the Steelers as official “contenders.”)

This dilemma comes down to two things. While Cowher was also following a legend, he returned home 11 years removed from Super Bowl XIV.

Then there’s the difference between the two men. Cowher lets his emotions flow. He acted out what every fan felt. When we pumped our fists, he pumped his. When we wanted to yell at a player, he got in their face.

Tomlin has a different style, one that is more reserved. While it’s important to respect that, it’s hard not to think of it when you’re examining some of the teams obvious faults.

It’s hard not to look at the loss against the Broncos and say “Cowher would have put that one away….” Or to look at the New England debacle “Cowher would have pounded it in so close to the goal line….” Or, there is no way Cowher wouldn’t have fired his special teams coach after the 2007 highlight reel of special teams disasters.

This is natural, but is it fair?

  • Ultimately, its not.

While Cowher was a great closer, he did give up games occasionally, the 1998 away game against the Bengals comes to mind. So do the last minute 2000 losses to the Browns, Titans, and Eagles.

Cowher helped define Smash Mouth Football, but he too resorted to gadget plays when he didn’t have the personnel, just think of the flea flicker late in the game on third and one against the Jaguars in 1999.

Put graciously, Tomlin’s decision to retain Bob Ligashesky is perplexing. In contrast, Cowher had a flair for canning special teams coaches. But Jay Hayes should have been fired after the 2000 season, instead two blocked kicks cost us the AFC Championship game in 2001….

The bottom line is that Tomlin’s first year offered much promise, but it also raised a lot of uncomfortable questions. Regardless, Mike Tomlin deserves to be judged on his own merits.

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