CHICAGO — Jay Cutler withstood the pressure early on and finally lived up to his lofty billing in the end.
Cutler came through with a big pass to Devin Hester on third down, and Robbie Gould booted a 44-yard field goal with 15 seconds left to lift the Chicago Bears to a 17-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
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, Cutler helped set up Gould's field goal with a 5-yard pass to Hester on third-and-4 at the Steelers 39 that kept the winning drive going.
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.
Cutler, however, came through like a star on a rainy afternoon in which he looked shaky at times 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. That was enough to beat the defending champions and offset solid performances by Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes.
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.
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. But with a chance to make it a 10-point game in the fourth, Reed missed a 28-yard field goal.
The Bears quickly responded.
Cutler hit 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 resodded 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 tight end Greg 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.