The Bears wore Mike Singletary patches over their heartsand their feelings on their sleevesas they somehow summoned enough emotion to upset the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Steelers 30-6 Sunday at Soldier Field.
Winning for the first time since Oct. 25, the Bears snapped a six-game losing streak in Singletary's final home appearance.
"I don't even dream that good," said Singletary of the surreal script played out by his impassioned teammates. "It was a very humbling experience. To have the opportunity to go out and play with so many guys that you love. And to have the opportunity to turn the tide and make a difference. That's what we did today. And we did it together."
The Bears (5-9) used five Steelers turnovers to end Pittsburgh's four-game winning streak and deter its quest for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.
"It shows you what emotion can do," said Bears coach Mike Ditka. "This is a game of emotion. Our guys wanted to do the best they could for Mike Singletary and also Tom Waddle, who's in the hospital (with a hip injury)."
The Bears' defense and special teams rose to the occasion with five sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt in a game witnessed by only 52,904 fans. There were 14,046 no-shows.
"I've been around and I don't know if I have ever seen a defense play more aggressively," said Ditka. "We didn't have to do that much (offensively) because our defense played so outstandingly. It became a very typical way that we like to win football games. We needed this very much. We feel we can win the next two games (at Detroit and Dallas) and salvage what has been a very dismal season for everybody."
Quarterback Jim Harbaugh, starting for the first time in two weeks, completed only 11 of 21 passes for 90 yards and one TD. He had vowed to turn over his weekly paycheck of some $70,000 to charity until the Bears won another game. After the triumph, Harbaugh said he would take his teammates out to dinner and still contribute a large sum to charity.
"I really had a good feeling about the game all along," said Harbaugh. "There really was no pressure."
Bubby Brister, starting at quarterback for the Steelers in place of the injured Neil O'Donnell, was 14 of 31 for 143 yards. He was sacked five times and intercepted twice.
"They brought a lot of pressure on us," said Brister. "Seemed like they were geared up and ready to play. It was just one of those days for us. We got our butts kicked; that's just the way it is."
The Steelers (10-4) turned the ball over twice in the first quarter. Rod Woodson fumbled the opening kickoff into the hands of kickoff man Chris Gardocki. But the Bears failed to cash in.
The Bears' second opportunity came when Mark Royals' punt was blocked by Lemuel Stinson with 7 minutes 1 second left in the opening period.
The Bears took over on the Steelers' 39. When the drive bogged down on the 20, Kevin Butler came in and booted the first of his three field goalsa 37-yarderfor a 3-0 lead.
"We showed (the defense) a film of Mike (Singletary) last night and some of the plays he has made throughout his career," Ditka said. "It affected them. They saw the way he played and the way he hit. At least they went out and tried to do it, and it worked, I guess."
Veteran defensive tackle Steve McMichael led the way with two sacks and a forced fumble. William Perry, Richard Dent and Chris Zorich each added a sack as well.
Pittsburgh turned the ball over a third time when Leroy Thompson fumbled into the arms of Shaun Gayle with 14:11 left in the second period.
The Bears did not convert directly on that opportunity. But on the exchange of punts, the Bears' Donnell Woolford returned Royals' boot 36 yards, with Royals making a saving tackle.
The Bears went on to drive 38 yards, capped by Darren Lewis' 3-yard TD run with 6:27 left in the half to make it 10-0 Bears.
A 26-yard Butler field goal improved the lead to 13-0 with :50 left in the half. Gardocki then attempted a line-drive kickoff, but it hit one of the Steelers on the front line and caromed high into the air. The Steelers recovered at their own 48. Six plays later, Gary Anderson kicked a 38-yard field goal to cut the Bears' lead to 13-3 at the half.
"We had the opportunity to come back in the second half and win," said Woodson. "It was only 13-3. The last couple games we've been playing very ugly. And this game killed us. We played ugly again."
The Steelers turned the ball over five times against Seattle and still prevailed 20-14 in their last outing.
The Bears added a 15-yard TD pass from Harbaugh to Neal Anderson (56 yards on 11 carries) with :22 left in the third period. The scoring toss capped a 10-play, 77-yard drive.
After Gayle's interception of a Brister pass and 30-yard return to the Steelers' 14, Butler added a 38-yard field goal to make the score 23-3 with 12:42 left in the game.
Gary Anderson hit his second 38-yard field goal with 9:05 left to make it 23-6.
Neal Anderson scored his second touchdown of the day on a 6-yard run with 3:02 remaining.
"It was great for Mike that it could end this way for him here in Chicago," said Ditka. "Let's try to make it end this way for him the next two games."
bears 30, steelers 6