Bears post 38-point second half en route to 41-3 win over Jaguars
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org October 7, 2012 6:14PM
JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 07: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears runs for yardage during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on October 7, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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Updated: October 8, 2012 8:16AM
JACKSONVILLE – During the bye, the Bears might want to give Charles Tillman some snaps at receiver.
For a second consecutive game, with the offense struggling, Tillman sparked the Bears with an interception return for a touchdown in a 41-3 rout. On Sunday, at EverBank Field against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tillman’s pick-six from 36 yards out late in the third quarter gave the Bears a 13-3 lead. The touchdown also was his eighth defensive touchdown, jumping one ahead of safety Mike Brown.
The Jaguars looked like a 1-3 start initially.
But the Bears (4-1) didn’t look much better.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, center Roberto Garza had a poor shotgun snap, and quarterback Jay Cutler forced a pass to Brandon Marshall that Jaguars cornerback Derek Cox intercepted.
The Jaguars got the ball just inside Bears’ territory, but the defense forced another three-and-out.
Heading into the locker room at halftime, the Bears and Jags were tied 3-3. The offense had 191 total yards but managed to convert just two of seven third downs, with Cutler completing 10 of 20 passes for 110 yards.
The Bears didn’t muster much of a pass rush on second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert. But, with the Jags reaching the Bears’ 20-yard line, defensive end Corey Wootton drilled Gabbert and forced a fumble, which Julius Peppers recovered.
In the third quarter, the Bears ploddingly moved the ball down the field on the opening series. But on third and goal from the three-yard line, right tackle Gabe Carimi was flagged for consecutive false starts and the Bears settled for a 31-yard field goal.
The score was just 6-3.
But on the next possession, Gabbert’s pass attempt to rookie Justin Blackmon was underthrown, and Tillman intercepted the ball and returned it for a touchdown.
The Bears kept piling on from there.
They scored four more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the most remarkable a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Lance Briggs.
Like Tillman, he returned an interception for a touchdown in a second consecutive game.
But receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey also scored touchdowns, although the rookie left the game with a hand injury.
Early on, running back Matt Forte paced his team with 22 carries for 107 yards and two catches for 20 yards. Marshall finished with game-highs in catches (12) and passing yards (144).
On offense, though, Devin Hester made the most impressive catch for a second consecutive game. He fully stretched out on the right sideline for a 39-yard catch, appearing to knock the wind out of himself when he landed hard on the ground. The play was challenged by the Jaguars but upheld after an official review.
The Jaguars offense was competent enough in the first half with 144 net yards. But, deep into the fourth quarter, the Jaguars had fewer than 50 net yards for the entire second half.
The Bears remain tied atop the NFC North with a 4-1 record. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-7 at Mall of America Field. But the defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers squandered a 21-3 halftime lead and lost 30-27 at Lucas Oil Stadium to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Packers fell to 2-3.