CHICAGO -- Hounded in the opener and harassed in the early going again Sunday, Jay Cutler simply wanted a shot at redemption. He got it and finally lived up to his lofty billing.
Cutler hit rookie Johnny Knox with the tying touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. After Jeff Reed missed his second field goal of the period, a 43-yarder, Cutler helped set up Gould's winning kick with a 5-yard pass to Hester on third-and-4 at the Steelers 39 that kept the winning drive going.
"I always hope to get a chance," Cutler said. "I always think we're going to get a chance if it's 3 minutes or if it's 30 seconds. All we want is a shot."
Both teams were missing their defensive stars, with Chicago's Brian Urlacher out for the rest of the season with a dislocated right wrist and the Steelers' Troy Polamalu out three to six weeks with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee. The Bears also saw defensive end Alex Brown get helped off the field with a sprained left ankle with just over four minutes remaining after collecting two sacks.
Cutler, however, came through like a star on a rainy afternoon in which he was pressured and had several passes dropped. Despite all that, his first home game with the Bears (1-1) was a big improvement over his debut with them.
He finished with 236 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, after being picked off a career-high four times in a season-opening loss at Green Bay. Knox, a rookie, was impressive, too, with six catches for 70 yards.
"In the face of pressure he made great decisions, put the ball in some good locations and guys converted third downs," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "They did enough to win, we didn't. We accept responsibility for that."
Roethlisberger threw for 221 yards and Holmes caught five passes for 83, yet Reed's problems in the fourth quarter gave the Bears the opening they needed.
"I'm just embarrassed, you know, because these guys fight their tails off to win the game," Reed said. "If there is one player that can single-handedly lose the game, I'll take credit for it."
The Steelers weren't about to do that.
"Not even a blink in our eyes that we're concerned about what Jeff did," Holmes said.
Roethlisberger gave the Steelers (1-1) a 14-7 lead midway through the third quarter when he ran it in from the 2, leaping over a lunging Danieal Manning, after Skokie native and Illinois product Rashard Mendenhall broke off a 39-yard run. After hitting the winner in overtime against Tennessee, Reed missed a 38-yard try that would have made it a 10-point game in the fourth.
The Bears quickly responded.
Cutler, whose arrival in a trade with Denver sent expectations in Chicago soaring, hit tight end Greg Olsen on a 29-yard pass to put the ball on the Pittsburgh 23, and finished the drive with a 7-yarder to Knox, who beat Polamalu's fill-in Tyrone Carter to tie it at 14 with 6:21 left, a neat sequence on an ugly afternoon.
There were large seams on the field after it was re-sodded following back-to-back U2 concerts the previous weekend, a short turnaround that left Bears players singing a familiar tune about the surface at the stadium owned by the Chicago Parks District.
There was a noticeable groan when Olsen slipped trying to make a catch in the end zone on a rain-slicked field late in the second quarter, but the crowd roared a few plays later when Kellen Davis caught a 6-yard pass from Cutler to tie it at 7 with 19 seconds left in the half. Of course, the biggest cheers came at the end.
"You don't really think about missing kicks," Gould said, "because when you do that you're going to miss kicks."
Chicago's Nick Roach started at LB for Pisa Tinoisamoa, who was out with a sprained knee, while TE Desmond Clark also missed the game with a rib injury. ... The Bears also reshuffled their secondary, with Zack Bowman starting at CB for Nathan Vasher and Manning getting the nod at FS over Kevin Payne. ... Besides Polamalu, the Steelers were also without WR Limas Sweed because of a sprained foot. ... The Steelers had 119 yards to the Bears' 11 in the first quarter.
- Scott Green