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Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Bears defense gets pick-happy on MNF

By ESPN Stats & Information


Getty ImagesLance Briggs and the Bears defense intercepted five Tony Romo passes on Monday night.

The Chicago Bears defense lived up to its hype in the Monday Night spotlight against the Dallas Cowboys, intercepting Tony Romo five times in the 34-18 win.

The Bears now lead the NFL with 11 interceptions and 14 total takeaways this season. Two of the picks were returned for touchdowns, marking just the fifth time since the merger that the Bears have returned at least two interceptions for a score in a game.

Defensive Stars
Charles Tillman started the pick-fest with a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown less than three minutes before halftime. It was his 31st career interception and the sixth he's returned for a score, extending his own franchise record.

Major Wright recorded his first career multiple-pick game, with both interceptions coming in the second half. The last Bears player with at least two picks after halftime was Lance Briggs in 2008 vs the St. Louis Rams.

Speaking of Briggs, he had a career-best 74-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter. It was the longest pick returned for a score by a Bears player on the road since the merger in 1970.

Four of the five picks came when the Bears sent four or fewer pass rushers, giving them eight interceptions this season with standard pressure, tied for the most in the league with the Rams.

Offensive Keys to Victory
Jay Cutler was an efficient 18-of-24 for 275 yards, two touchdowns and – most importantly – no picks. This is just the second time Cutler has thrown for at least 275 yards while completing 75 percent of his throws. He also did it on December 7, 2008 playing for the Denver Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cutler was cool under pressure, most notably after halftime. He completed all six of his throws for 127 yards against five or more pass rushers in the second half. He finished with a 78 percent completion rate while averaging more than 16 yards per attempts when facing added pressure.

This performance was a nice turnaround for Cutler, who entered Monday with the second-worst completion percentage against added pressure (45 percent) in the first three weeks.

Romo Picked Clean
Romo had a night to forget, throwing five interceptions for the second time in his career. Coincidentally (or maybe not), his other five-pick game was October 8, 2007 against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.

Tony Romo
Romo
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Romo is the first player ever to have multiple five-interception games on Monday Night Football. Romo is the second Cowboys quarterback with two five-interception games in a career, joining Eddie LeBaron. He is also now the only active quarterback with two five-pick games.

After sending four or fewer pass rushers on almost two-thirds of Tony Romo’s dropbacks in the first half, the Bears brought such pressure on all but one of Romo’s dropbacks after halftime. It paid off, as he threw four interceptions in those situations.

Romo did have one statistical highlight in the loss. He threw his 154th career touchdown, moving past Roger Staubach for third-most in Cowboys history. He needs one more to tie Danny White for second place.

Stat of Game
How important was this win for the Bears, who now stand 3-1? Since 1990, almost 65 percent of teams starting 3-1 have made the playoffs. Over that same span, only 35 percent of the teams that start 2-2 have reached the postseason.