Chicago Bears running back Michael Bush (29) celebrates scoring a touchdown with teammates in the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Updated: September 23, 2013 9:31PM
PITTSBURGH—It took some more fourth-quarter heroics from quarterback Jay Cutler and Co. to secure the Bears’ 40-23 win over the Steelers on Sunday night.
But the Bears are 3-0.
It’s been a dream start to the Marc Trestman era. But the first-year coach isn’t thinking too much about it his impressive beginning.
“Every game is kind of independent of the next,” Trestman said. “And we’re just trying to play every game. We’re going to next week with that as one of 13 (games left) and we’ll see where we are. So we’re still in this evolutionary process of trying to find out who we are.”
Here’s how that process shook out on Sunday against the Steelers when it came to playing time:
For the first time in three games, the Bears had less offensive plays than the opposition (66-62 Steelers). Quarterback Jay Cutler, tight end Martellus Bennett and the starting offensive line of Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Roberto Garza, Kyle Long and Jordan Mills were on the field for every offensive snap.
On defense, linebackers Lance Briggs and James Anderson, cornerback Tim Jennings and safety Chris Conte were on for every defensive play.
Before getting carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a serious knee injury, defensive tackle Henry Melton saw 33 snaps (50 percent).
Cornerback Charles Tillman began Sunday as questionable with a knee injury, but he started and played until a groin issue sidelined him. Tillman saw 44 snaps.
Backup cornerback Zack Bowman got a season-high 22 snaps with Tillman out.
Defensive tackle Nate Collins saw more playing time with Melton injured, but already was a big part of the Bears’ rotation up front. He got 41 snaps on defense and 11 on special teams.
Corey Wootton started at left defensive end and led the Bears’ three ends in playing time with 52 snaps (79 percent). Julius Peppers had 47 plays and Shea McClellin saw 45.
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea, the Bears’ most disruptive player over three games, got 46 snaps on defense.
The run game
Running back Michael Bush had his biggest workload of the season with the Bears in goal-line and short-yardage situations. He had 19 snaps.
Starter Matt Forte had another productive game in Trestman’s offense, seeing 44 offensive plays (71 percent).
Fullback Tony Fiammetta was involved in 22 plays.
Brandon Marshall was on the field for 54 offensive plays (87 percent), leading all receivers. Alshon Jeffery, a force in the first quarter, was on for 42 snaps, while No. 3 receiver Earl Bennett had 22. Joe Anderson and Eric Weems each had one play on offense.
Tight ends Steve Maneri (27 snaps) and Dante Rosario (16) were involved offensively.
Rosario also had a team-high 29 snaps on special teams.
Nickel vs. base
The Bears had their nickel defense on the field against the Steelers for 38 plays with cornerback Isaiah Frey staying in the nickel back role.
Linebacker D.J. Williams made a huge impact, sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice on blitzes. But he was only on the field for 28 defensive plays (42 percent).