Sunday, October 7, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Bears 41, Jaguars 3
By Michael C. Wright
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Chicago Bears scored 38 second-half points to turn a competitive 3-3 affair at the half into a 41-3 slaughter on the strength of two Jay Cutler touchdown passes and a pair of defensive touchdowns from Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs.
Over the past six days, the Bears have racked up four defensive touchdowns, with Tillman and Briggs chipping in two apiece dating back to the club's Monday night victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Four of the club's TDs against the Jaguars came in the fourth quarter alone.
Let's look at this thing a little closer.
What it means: The Bears accomplished their goal of going into their week off with a 4-1 record, and will be tied with the Minnesota Vikings for the division lead. In addition, the Bears extended their NFC North lead over the Green Bay Packers to two games. Such a lead could come in handy down the stretch.
Slow start for Cutler: Cutler completed 10 of 20 passes for 110 yards and an interception to go with a passer rating of 45.8 in the first half as the Bears sputtered on offense, converting just 2 of 7 on third down.
But the quarterback rebounded to throw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.
As Cutler caught fire, his passer rating improved to 88.8 as he hit Jeffery for a 10-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a slant route defended by Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis, and later a 24-yard scoring strike to Marshall. By the 12-minute mark of the fourth quarter, the Bears had improved their third-down conversion rate to 50 percent.
Cutler finished the game having completed 23-of-39 for 292 yards.
Carimi's struggles continue: Gabe Carimi played a major role in the club's squandering what should have been a touchdown drive in the third quarter with a couple of false-start penalties that moved the team from the Jacksonville 3 to the 13, and forced it to settle for Robbie Gould's second field goal of the day.
The Carimi false starts came during a drive in which he also gave up a sack to Austen Lane for a 5-yard loss.
Deja vu: In what looked like a repeat of Chicago's win over the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Tillman and linebacker Briggs returned their second interceptions for touchdowns in six days courtesy of Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The Bears have proved that when the defense scores, good things happen.
Since 2004, the Bears own a 21-5 record when the defense scores a TD. The Bears are 18-2 under those circumstances over the past seven seasons.
Tillman scored Chicago's first touchdown with 5:04 left in the third quarter to give the Bears a 13-3 lead after Gould's extra point. The INT came on what might have been a communication mishap between Gabbert and receiver Justin Blackmon.
Tillman now has 32 career interceptions, with seven returned for touchdowns. Tillman's seven TDs go down as the most defensive touchdowns in franchise history.
Briggs' score came in the fourth quarter on a 36-yard return.
Here’s a breakdown of Chicago’s defensive touchdowns since 2004: 30 TDs total; 23 interception return TDs, 7 fumble return TDs; 26 games in which the defense scored a TD.
More sacks: Jacksonville's offensive line for the most part kept the defensive line of the Bears in check until the second half, when Briggs and Corey Wootton (two sacks) dropped Gabbert to run up the club's season sack total to 18.
Considering the Jaguars started off the game converting 4-of-8 on third down, the Bears applied the pressure at just the right time.
Briggs' sack in the third quarter marked just the second by a player not on the defensive line. Interestingly, 15 of the team's sacks have come from the defensive line. Briggs and strongside linebacker Nick Roach are the only players that aren't members of the defensive line to nab sacks.
What's next: Plenty of rest for the Bears, who will take off Monday and Tuesday before returning to Halas Hall on Wednesday. The Bears are idle this week, and don't return to action until they face the Detroit Lions in a Monday night matchup at Soldier Field on Oct. 22.