Photo caption: Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) celebrates with Julius Peppers (90) and Tim Jennings (26) after Urlacher returned an interception for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Joe Howell)
Going into Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, the Bears were a team with a 6-1 record, inconsistent offense and solid defense. After the 51-20 blowout, leading to a 7-1 record, more attention is being given to the Monsters of the Midway as possible Super Bowl contenders.
The Bears have little time to celebrate, as the Houston Texans will come into town next Sunday, looking to improve on their own 7-1 record after beating the Buffalo Bills 21-9.
The team lit up the scoreboard in the first quarter against the Titans, racing to a 28-2 lead that was spearheaded by the defensive play of cornerback Charles Tillman, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for October.
Tillman forced four fumbles and had a team-high nine tackles in the game, sparking Defensive Player of the Year conversation and establishing himself as one of the top, if not the best, cornerbacks in the league.
“Great job by our team,” head coach Lovie Smith said. “For a coach to be able to watch a special trade that he has and ability to knock the ball out as hard, he [Tillman] kind of set the tone for our football team right away.”
The Bears also had huge plays from Brian Urlacher and Corey Wooton. Urlacher intercepted a ball and returned it for a touchdown to mark the seventh pick-six that was returned for a touchdown this year, coming closer to the single-season record of nine that was set by the 1961 San Diego Chargers.
Wooton recovered a blocked punt and ran the ball five yards for a touchdown with 6:44 left in the first quarter.
“The defense sets us up,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “We stumbled a little bit offensively, stumbled in the red zone … definitely some things to work on offensively. We’re just not where we need to be.”
Cutler and the offense was carried by the defense in the first half, which ended with the Bears up 31-5, but came alive in the second half to show flashes of dominance.
Cutler ended the game with 229 yards passing and three TDs, which were all to his favorite target Brandon Marshall, scoring the most points on the road since 1963.
Matt Forte was consistent from the beginning of the game, finishing with a touchdown and rushing for 103 yards, which opened up the passing game for the offense in the second half.
The team will have a more formidable challenge next week against a Houston Texans team that is expected to make a serious push in the playoffs.
Defensive linemen Israel Idonije and Henry Melton left the game because of injuries, but both managed to finish the game and aren’t expected to miss any time. The Bears are also closer to receiving their No. 2 receiver Alshon Jeffery back in the lineup after suffering a hand injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth week.
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