- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Force takeaways and stay turnover free: Staying on the plus side of the turnover ratio virtually guarantees victory for the Chicago Bears this season. They're 5-0 on the season when they finish with a positive turnover margin, 1-2 with a negative turnover margin and 0-2 this year when the turnover margin is equal. The Bears finished plus-2 against the Baltimore Ravens, including a 24-yard pick-six from defensive end David Bass.
The Bears have won 11 games in a row when they've scored a touchdown on defense. But if the defense can't score, the Bears can do the next best thing, which is to take the ball away and not turn it over on offense. Backup quarterback Josh McCown hasn't thrown an interception in 101 attempts thus far.
Cut out the penalties: By halftime of Sunday's game, the Bears had already topped the season-high six penalties they were flagged during an Oct. 6 loss to the New Orleans Saints, with seven for 61 yards against the Ravens. For the game, the Bears racked up 13 penalties for 111 yards. Bears coach Marc Trestman has established a standard of fairly penalty-free play in Chicago because he knows unnecessary penalties are one of the easiest ways to give away ballgames. It needs to stop.
Youngsters up front keep shining: Bass picked off Joe Flacco and returned the interception 24 yards for a touchdown, while defensive end Cheta Ozougwu posted the first sack of his career by stripping the Baltimore quarterback in the fourth quarter. Ozougwu had just been moved up a day prior from the practice squad to the active roster, and wasted no time making an impact. With all the injuries on the defense, youngsters such as Bass and Ozougwu need to continue to step up.
Keep it up Peppers: Julius Peppers sacked Flacco twice, marking the 24th time (sixth time with the Bears) he's collected at least two sacks in a game. Peppers needs to continue producing and being a disruptive force. Having now recorded three sacks in the past three games to go with an interception and two pass breakups, Peppers is starting to show that he's still got plenty left in the tank. He just needs to do it on a more consistent basis to help this defense finally elevate to a level where it can consistently help out the club's potent offense.