CHICAGO — Jordan Howard pushed through the pain in his right shoulder to give the Bears the lift they needed.
Howard scored on a 19-yard run in overtime to lead Chicago to a 23-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Howard’s winning score came two plays after rookie Tarik Cohen broke off an electric run for what appeared to be a 73-yard game-winning touchdown . But he was ruled out at the Pittsburgh 37. Howard took over from there and got a big assist as he ran along the left side. Deonte Thompson might have grabbed Pittsburgh’s Artie Burns while pushing him out of bounds. But no flag was thrown, and the Bears (1-2) came away with a surprising victory.
"You always dream about stuff like that but it never happens so it was real crazy," Howard said. "Definitely, it was a very wacky game but through everything that happened we found a way to win."
Howard came up clutching his right shoulder — which has bothered him since the opener — several times and wasn’t sure he would make it through this game.
He wound up with 138 of Chicago’s 220 yards rushing and two touchdown runs. It was just what the Bears needed with quarterback Mike Glennon delivering another lacklustre performance.
The Steelers (2-1) stayed off the sideline for the national anthem in the wake of President Donald Trump’s comments that players who kneel in protest should be fired. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva — an Army veteran — stood near the tunnel with his hand over his heart.
Once the game ended, they found themselves in a familiar spot — losing to a lesser team and losing in Chicago, where they are 1-13 against the Bears.
The Steelers have had at least one head-scratching loss every year going back to 2012.
Last year, Pittsburgh fell 34-3 to Philadelphia, which finished with a losing record. In 2015, the Steelers were surging toward a playoff spot, when they lost late in the season to a Baltimore team that went 5-11.
Despite the victory, Glennon did nothing to stop the calls in Chicago for No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky, throwing for just 101 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Marcus Cooper committed an inexplicable fumble after the Bears blocked a field goal in the closing seconds of the half. With a clear path to the end zone, he slowed down and had the ball poked away at the 1.
But the Bears won for just the first time in nine September games over three seasons under coach John Fox.
Ben Roethlisberger blamed himself for Pittsburgh’s loss.
"I think I was off today," he said after throwing for 235 yards and a touchdown. "For whatever reason, I did not make all the throws I normally would and make the plays I normally should."
Antonio Brown had 110 yards receiving and a touchdown. And Le’Veon Bell ran for 61 yards and a TD for Pittsburgh.
The Bears led 17-7 at halftime following a wild sequence in the closing seconds that included Cooper’s fumble after Chicago’s Sherrick McManis blocked a 35-yard field goal. After Cooper slowed down, the Steelers’ Vance McDonald knocked the ball out of his hands at the 1.
With the ball bouncing in the end zone, holder Jordan Berry swatted it out the back with his right hand.
The officials initially ruled a touchback. Fox argued, and after a lengthy review, the ball was placed about a half yard from the goal line.
Chicago settled for a field goal after left tackle Charles Leno Jr. got flagged for a false start.
"It was just a mistake on my part," Cooper said. "I didn’t think he was that close to me and slowed down and the guy made a great play."
Cohen on his big run in OT: "I definitely know that I scored a touchdown. I definitely shot that dagger 3 like Ray Allen, and I feel like I finished that game."
Chicago’s Kyle Long started at right guard for the Bears after being sidelined since Nov. 13 because of a right ankle injury.
Steelers: TE Jesse James suffered a shoulder injury on a hard hit by Kyle Fuller following a second-quarter catch but returned in the second half. … G Ramon Foster hurt his left hand in the first quarter. … S Sean Davis left with an ankle injury in the second half.
Bears: C Hroniss Grasu hurt his hand in the first half.
Steelers: Visit Baltimore on Oct. 1.
Bears: Visit Green Bay on Thursday night.