You can understand the Pittsburgh Steelers trying to pick on a guy when he was down, but Marcus Cooper didn’t let a bone-headed play negatively impact the rest of his Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger threw nine of his 39 passes in Cooper’s directigeton, and this is how Cooper responded:
It was a mistake for the Steelers to go after Marcus Cooper in coverage today pic.twitter.com/1OLeI6nA0v
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 24, 2017
Cooper had a defensive holding penalty in the end zone before a Steelers rushing touchdown, but was otherwise outstanding throughout the afternoon. Roethlisberger completed just one pass for 10 yards and posted a quarterback rating of just 39.6 when throwing at Cooper. It’s the kind of performance the Bears had in mind when they signed him to a three-year deal worth $16 million ($8 million guaranteed) in the offseason.
It wasn’t necessarily a popular deal, especially after posting a 40.3 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2016 – a year in which he was targeted on more than 63 percent of targets and allowed four touchdowns. However, the Bears seemed willing to overlook that because of the four interceptions he came up with despite his struggles in coverage.
After allowing Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston to post quarterback ratings above 100 in each of the first two weeks, the Bears secondary limited to Roethlisberger an 82.7 rating Sunday, his second lowest during a regular season game stretching back over his last eight. And given that Roethlisberger and the Steelers had won eight consecutive regular season games before Sunday’s loss, make no mistake, this was a big win for the Bears as a team, and for Cooper on an individual level.
At a higher level, GM Ryan Pace shelled out $20 million to bring Cooper, Prince Amukamara, and Quintin Demps into an upgraded defensive secondary. Cooper’s guarantee was the biggest, and for the first time this season, he played like a cornerback capable of earning that kind of commitment.
Of course, there’s still that little thing regarding finishing a play and finding the end zone, but maybe we can forget about it for a few minutes and enjoy an overall quality performance.