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Bears’ defense looking to extend Giants’ turnover epidemic

New York Giants v Kansas City Chiefs

New York Giants v Kansas City Chiefs

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Updated: October 8, 2013 10:25PM



On Oct. 24, 1954, at Comiskey Park, the Chicago Cardinals threw two interceptions and fumbled twice in a loss to the Cleveland Browns.

It was the fifth time in their first five games — twice each against Frank Gifford’s New York Giants and Otto Graham’s Browns and once against Chuck Bednarik’s Philadelphia Eagles — that the Cardinals committed three or more turnovers.

No team had matched that streak until Sunday, when the Giants’ Eli Manning threw three interceptions and running back Brandon Jacobs lost a fumble in a loss to the Eagles. The Giants have thrown 13 interceptions and lost seven fumbles, both league highs.

Not surprisingly, the 1954 Cardinals and 2013 Giants started 0-5.

‘‘We do know a little bit about ball security,’’ Giants
coach Tom Coughlin said Tuesday, “but you sure wouldn’t know about it by virtue of this year.”

Three, as ‘‘Schoolhouse Rock’’ cartoons taught us, is a magic number. It’s the turnover goal the Bears’ defense sets for itself every game.

‘‘They know what type of team we are: We like to take the ball away,’’ cornerback Zack Bowman said. ‘‘They’re going to be very conscious and very aware of taking care of the football.

‘‘But every team does that when they come in here, and we still find a way to take it away.’’

The Giants, who visit Soldier Field on Thursday, might be the panacea for a defense that failed to force a turnover for the first time since Nov. 19 in the loss Sunday to the New Orleans Saints.

‘‘You’re talking about ball security and taking care of the ball, and every defense in America is talking about taking it away,’’ Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. ‘‘I’m sure they’ll be at their best from a ball-security standpoint, and we have to be at our best to try to take it away.’’

Teams have scored 62 points off Giants turnovers, the most in the NFL.

Their giveaways go deeper than a catch-and-throw:

◆ Injuries to four-time Pro Bowl guard Chris Snee, center David Baas and tackle David Diehl have forced the Giants to use three players at center and right guard.

◆ David Wilson, who will sit out Thursday with a neck injury, has lost two fumbles, tied for the most among running backs.

◆ The Giants have been outscored 121-61 in the first three quarters, forcing them to throw in the fourth.

‘‘Every turnover has its own story, its own reason,’’ Manning said.

Before Sunday, the Bears led the NFL with 14 takeaways and had forced at least three in every game. Now they’re second in the league, one behind the Seat-
tle Seahawks.

‘‘I think they do a great job of stripping the ball — for quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, whoever has it,’’ Manning said.

Manning, who has thrown 12 interceptions in 203
attempts, said the Bears ‘‘take some educated risks’’ and their cornerbacks ‘‘make some plays.’’

Coach Marc Trestman said the Bears are more concerned about trying to force turnovers than they are about the Giants’ habit of committing them. But don’t think it goes unnoticed.

‘‘When you’ve got a team that turns the ball over like that or have had enough turnovers, you want to get after it,’’ defensive tackle Zach Minter said.

The 1954 Pittsburgh Steelers probably thought the same thing. But on Halloween, the Cardinals left Comiskey Park with their first victory after turning the ball over only twice. The Steelers turned it over four times.

The Bears hope to avoid a similar fate.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley



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