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Turnovers indicative of Bears’ defense returning to form

Vikings running back Adrian Petersfumbles ball first quarter. He gained 108 yards but was held check first half. | Tom

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson fumbles the ball in the first quarter. He gained 108 yards but was held in check in the first half. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 25, 2013 1:38AM



The Bears weren’t about to let another second-year quarterback and a good running team waltz all over them again.

They weren’t about to be questioned again.

Instead, the Bears’ defense did what’s expected in a solid 28-10 victory Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. It forced three turnovers, limited running back Adrian Peterson and sacked quarterback Christian Ponder twice and pressured him often.

“Everybody did their job,’’ defensive tackle Stephen Paea said. ‘‘If we do that every game, nobody can stop us. I’m not just saying it because we had this one good game. But you can pull out the film from earlier this year. Everybody was just doing their job.”

Last week against the San Francisco 49ers, the common refrain was: No one did their job. Second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick surprised the Bears in their worst defensive performance of the season.

Defensive tackle Henry Melton said the Bears used a lot of stunts up front to direct Peterson, and linebacker Brian Urlacher said they relied on their cover-2 scheme. Last week, more man-to-man coverages were used against the run-happy 49ers.

Peterson, the NFL’s leading rusher, finished with 108 yards on 18 carries. His longest run was 23 yards. But Peterson only had 25 yards in the first half as the Bears took a 25-3 lead.

“We got to the football,” Urlacher said. “We played a lot of cover-2, which is the stuff to do against them because he’s such a good back.

‘‘He got a few yards late in the game when it didn’t really matter. We held him in check, for the most part, in the first half.”

The best indicator that things were working defensively was the turnovers.

Linebacker Nick Roach forced a fumble by Peterson, which cornerback Charles Tillman recovered early in the first quarter. Free safety Chris Conte intercepted an overthrow by Ponder (22-for-43, 159 yards, one touchdown, 58.2 passer rating) in the second quarter. And strong safety Major Wright recovered a fumble by Ponder in the fourth quarter.

The Bears’ offense turned Peterson’s fumble and Conte’s interception into 14 points. It was a huge difference from last week when the Bears forced none in San Francisco.

“It was disappointing, and it just reinforced what we said [we have to do] in order for us to win,” coach Lovie Smith said. “It’s not a good defensive game unless we’re able to take the ball away. We got back on track today.”

The Bears’ defense also had its share of injuries. Tillman suffered an ankle injury and didn’t play much, and linebacker Lance Briggs left the locker room in a walking boot.

But, like the offense, the Bears’ defense hung on as nickelback Kelvin Hayden played in place of Tillman.

“We already know that last week wasn’t us,” said Melton, who sacked Ponder on the Vikings’ first play. “We really wanted to get back on track.”



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