Another week, another dominating performance by the Chicago Bears and their relentless defense.
The Bears proved that they deserved their number one spot on the NFL defensive leader board with their performance at Soldier Field Monday night against the Detroit Lions.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford and the struggling Lions offense barely escaped a shutout with a touchdown pass to Ryan Broyles with only 30 seconds remaining in the game. The 13-7 final score may give the impression that it was a close game, but anyone who watched this Monday night showdown knows it was never close, not for any of the game’s 60 minutes.
Not only is this Bears defense consistent and tough, as they have always been, but they make big plays when it counts. The Chicago Bears have always put a huge emphasis on creating turnovers, and it continues to pay off year after year.
The most striking of the Bears’ defensive stats from Monday night were the three red zone turnovers. Nothing halts an opposing team’s momentum and riles up a home crowd more than a turnover, especially one inside the 20-yard line. Lance Briggs started things off, forcing a fumble by Lions runningback Mikel Leshoure just before halftime. Brian Urlacher contributed as well, recovering a fumble by Joique Bell on the Bears’ 1-yard line as he stretched out for the endzone in the third quarter. The third turnover came via a DJ Moore interception late in the fourth quarter as Stafford was chased out of the pocket and hit hard on a Lions fourth down play.
Also impressive in this outstanding defensive performance was Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, who held the explosive Calvin Johnson to only three catches for 34 yards. Johnson’s infamous “2-car garage wingspan” shown by ESPN’s Sport Science last season did nothing to faze Tillman, as he provided great coverage of the number-one receiver throughout the entire Monday night affair. Tillman recorded seven tackles on the night and forced two fumbles, which both took lucky Detroit bounces out of bounds.
“Peanut is a big-time corner. I don’t know how he does it, but I’m glad he does it. I’m glad he plays for us,” said Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher of his teammate after the game. I think Chicago fans would agree whole-heartedly.
Tillman plays with not only strength, speed, and tenacity, but also with incredible “system intelligence,” as commentator Jon Gruden called it during Monday night’s game. Charles Tillman has spent his entire 10-year NFL career as a Chicago Bear, and his expertise at the position shows it. His experiences in this Chicago defense and his facing NFC North opponents give him the knowledge and ability to read the opposing offense and win his matchups, even the toughest ones against players like Calvin Johnson.
If the adage holds true and defenses really do win championships, watch out New Orleans. The Monsters of the Midway are coming.