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Bears blitz Steelers for 5 turnovers, 2 TDs in 40-23 win; now 3-0


Rick Morrissey: Bears, 17-13

Season: 1-1

Rick Telander: Bears, 24-21

Season: 1-1

Dan McGrath: Bears, 27-20

Season: 1-1

Hub Arkush: Bears, 27-16

Season: 1-1

Adam L. Jahns: Bears, 24-13

Season: 2-0

Mark Potash: Steelers, 23-20

Season: 2-0

Patrick Finley: Steelers, 24-23

Season: 2-0

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Updated: September 23, 2013 12:14PM

PITTSBURGH — The Bears proved the old saying that the best offense is a good defense during a harrowing three hours Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Two Bears defenders scored touchdowns off turnovers, including end Julius Peppers’ 42-yard return of a fumble by Ben Roethlisberger with 4:09 left that sealed a 40-23 victory at Heinz Field.

That went along with safety Major Wright’s 38-yard interception return in the second quarter that gave the Bears a 24-3 lead that seemed insurmountable.

The Steelers, desperate and winless, scored 20 of the next 23 points to make a game of it but couldn’t overcome the Bears’ 5-0 edge in turnovers forced. The Bears, who are 3-0 and in first place in the NFC North, scored 23 points off those turnovers.

‘‘Anytime you can score twice on defense, you’re having a pretty good day,’’ Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said.

It took a challenge from coach Marc Trestman for the Bears to regain more than a touchdown’s distance.

The Bears led 27-23 with about six minutes left when, on third down, officials ruled a 17-yard catch by receiver Earl Bennett in the back left corner of the end zone incomplete. While the Bears’ field-goal team trotted onto the field, Trestman threw the red flag. Coaches upstairs saw the replay and thought it was a catch.

‘‘It was unanimous that Earl was in bounds,’’ Trestman said.

Minutes later, the ruling was changed to a touchdown, much to the frustration of what was left of the crowd of 61,575.

Blitzing linebacker D.J. Williams forced a fumble by Roethlisberger on the Steelers’ first drive, and the Bears eventually scored on a five-yard run by Matt Forte.

The Bears started the third quarter by forcing a turnover, too, when Wright separated running back Felix Jones from the ball and defensive tackle Henry Melton fell on it. That led to a 32-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.

‘‘This defense prides itself on takeaways,’’ Wright said.

Unfortunately, Melton was involved in a brutal moment, too, when he injured his left knee in the fourth quarter and had to be carted off the field.

The Bears blitzed often from the linebacker spot. Two blitzes forced a three-and-out in the first quarter, and the Bears took over on their 40-yard line after Devin Hester’s fair catch of a punt.

Forte broke off a 55-yard run on the first play, rushing past cornerback William Gay, who tried to strip the ball rather than tackle him, then tiptoeing up the right sideline before stepping out at the Steelers’ 5.

A pass-interference penalty on a throw to receiver Brandon Marshall gave the Bears first-and-goal from the 1. After they failed to score on three plays, Michael Bush ran up the middle and was hit by linebacker Lawrence Timmons. He bounced off and scored on second effort to give the Bears a 17-0 lead.

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown caught two touchdowns for the Steelers (0-3), a 33-yarder in the second quarter that made it 24-10 and a 21-yarder in the third that made it 27-20.

‘‘Obviously, you’re not going to win football games when you’re turning the ball over in the manner which we did,’’ Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.


Twitter: @patrickfinley

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