RBs Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen pound Steelers as Bears overcome gaffe

Bears rookie Tarik Cohen tiptoed up the right sideline, cut inside at the Steelers’ 35-yard line, headed for the opposite pylon, then changed direction again at the 10.

He bounded into the end zone Sunday, won the game in overtime and hurled the football into the crowd, he later joked, like Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

‘‘It felt like a movie,’’ Bears quarterback Mike Glennon said.

One with an alternate ending.

Bears running back Jordan Howard runs for a 19-yard touchdown overtime on Sunday. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Cohen’s 73-yard touchdown was changed to a mere 36-yard gain after officials ruled his right heel touched out of bounds at the 37. The Bears’ equipment manager had to break the news to him.

But Jordan Howard ran 18 yards on the next play, then 19 yards for a touchdown to give the Bears their first victory of the season, a 23-17 triumph against the Steelers at Soldier Field.

‘‘I couldn’t even believe it,’’ Howard said. ‘‘I had to look back and make sure there were no flags or anything. It was like a dream come true.’’

The day started with the Bears linking arms and all but one Steelers player staying in the tunnel during the national anthem in very different shows of team unity in the wake of President Donald Trump’s anti-player comments.

The midpoint of the game was even more unusual. Call it Cooper’s Blooper. Cornerback Sherrick McManis blocked a field goal into the arms of cornerback Marcus Cooper, who raced up the left sideline as time expired in the first half. Cooper slowed down, thinking he had reached the end zone, and the Steelers’ Vance McDonald poked the ball free.

After the officials huddled and reviewed replay, the Bears were given the ball at the 1 on an untimed down because the Steelers had batted the ball through the end zone. The Bears committed a false-start penalty, though, and settled for a field goal and a 17-7 halftime lead.

The Steelers, though, made up the deficit. They scored on a one-yard run by Le’Veon Bell after Howard fumbled at the Bears’ 16 in the third quarter, then tied the score on a 32-yard field goal by Chris Boswell with about eight minutes left after Glennon threw an interception at the Bears’ 21.

The Bears leaned on their running game all day — Glennon was 15-for-22 for a mere 101 yards — and it paid dividends in overtime. They marched 74 yards in four plays, all of them runs.

‘‘Their defense was very tired,’’ Howard said. ‘‘Especially after the Tarik run. That took everything out of them.’’

Howard twice left the game when he reinjured the shoulder he first hurt in Week 1, but he returned after  his teammates’ encouragement.

‘‘I didn’t think I could finish,’’ said Howard, who ran 23 times for 138 yards, more than doubling the 59 rushing yards he had in the Bears’ first two games combined.

He also led the Bears with five catches for 26 yards. Cohen had 12 rushes for 78 yards and four catches for 24.

Together, they were the best version of the Bears’ two-headed running-back attack.

‘‘I feel like we can be the best running-back tandem because the things he does great, I can complement,’’ Cohen said. ‘‘When he beats up a defense, I can come in and spark it up and maybe have a big run here and there. And he can get in there and do what he does, be that running back he was last year.’’

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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