Bears’ beleaguered ‘D’ holds Browns under 100 rushing yards
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter December 15, 2013 8:08PM
Updated: December 15, 2013 9:35PM
CLEVELAND — Gloomy clouds filled the sky, but it was “a sunny day for our run defense,” coach Marc Trestman said.
The Browns aren’t exactly world-beaters on the ground, but every team has gashed the Bears’ run defense the last several weeks. No-names such as the Rams’ Benny Cunningham have turned into Jim Brown against the Bears.
But not Sunday in the Bears’ 38-31 victory.
The Bears limited the Browns to 93 rushing yards, and quarterback Jason Campbell (23-for-39, 273 yards, 67.6 passer rating) boosted that total with a 17-yard scramble.
Stopping Edwin Baker (two-yard touchdown run) and Chris Ogbonnaya might not seem like a major accomplishment, but for a defense that has given up 1,552 rushing yards in the last eight games, it matters.
“It’s one thing that we kind of harped on right before the game, man — ‘Let’s keep them under 100 yards; let’s see if we can do it,’ ” cornerback Tim Jennings said. “Our D-line took pride in that. They played great, and that was definitely what we wanted to do.”
The defense drew some unwarranted attention before the game with national reports swirling about some unhappiness over the return of Jay Cutler.
“I don’t know who they’re talking about,” linebacker James Anderson said.
“We didn’t have any thoughts about it,” defensive end Corey Wootton said. “From the beginning, Coach has told us that Jay is the quarterback whenever he’s ready to come back.”
Essentially, members of the Bears’ defense know they have little to complain about. They have their own issues to fix, starting with stopping the run and including creating more takeaways.
“No, [the defense] hasn’t discussed who is going to play [quarterback],” said Anderson, who was credited with a game-high 11 tackles.
“That’s not my call. We play defense. All we can do is try to play the best we can on defense.”
Cornerback Zack Bowman had two interceptions, including a key pick-six, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff played well and the Bears prevented the Browns’ top threats, wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron, from making an impact.
With Jennings in coverage all game, Gordon (a record 774 receiving yards in his last four games) was held to three catches on 10 targets for 67 yards, most of which came on his 43-yard touchdown with a minute left.
Cameron had three receptions for 23 yards.
“If you limit the big-play guys, you’re going to have a good day,” defensive end Shea McClellin said. “And that’s what we did.”
Jennings said the Bears’ success resulted from stopping the run.
“Once we took that away, we started making the quarterback make some decisions and check down,” Jennings said. “It gave us a great opportunity to get more takeaways.”
A more difficult challenge looms next week in the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy, the league’s leading rusher. But the Bears believe they gained some confidence against the Browns.
It was the first time they’ve held a team under 100 rushing yards since Week 5.
“We still have to limit some of these runs, but it’s a step in a positive direction,” Wootton said.
The Bears’ defense needed something to feel good about.
“I wouldn’t call it a moral victory,” Anderson said. “I would call it an improvement on defense. We need to keep taking steps forward as a defense if we’re going to have a chance to win, and today was a step forward.”