Charles Tillman’s teammates were complimenting him for the many plays he made in the Bears’ 35-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional playoff game Sunday at Soldier Field, but the veteran cornerback was beating himself up over two plays he didn’t make.
“No, I’m not satisfied,” Tillman said after one of his best games of the season. “We’re in the NFC Championship Game. Great. But those two plays, you’ve got to make those plays because they could’ve been the keys to the game.”
Coach Lovie Smith’s respect for receiver Mike Williams was as obvious as the confidence he showed in Tillman, who was informed early in the week that he would draw the assignment of blanketing the one player Smith knew his defense had to contain.
Despite being locked in at right cornerback this season after playing on the left side during the first seven years of his career, Tillman covered Williams no matter where he lined up for the majority of the afternoon.
“We had planned on matching Charles Tillman up and pressing Mike Williams a lot more to try to get him out of the game a little bit more than we did the first time around,” Smith said. “They did a good job with that.”
As a result, the former USC star, who caught 10 passes for 123 yards in the Seahawks’ 23-20 win over the Bears on Oct. 17, caught four passes for 15 yards despite being targeted by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck 13 times, more than any other receiver.
“Charles did a great job,” safety Danieal Manning said. “We knew that was going to be the biggest matchup in the game, and Peanut did an exceptionally good job. He even did a good job on the touchdown.
“That happened to me one time. I broke the play up, and it bounced off me, and the guy caught it. The same thing happened to Peanut.”
The play Manning was referring to will haunt Tillman even though he played it about as well as a cornerback can.
He had Williams covered and appeared to have intercepted a low Hasselbeck pass intended for Williams in the end zone in the final minutes.
Instead, the ball deflected off him and was caught by Williams for the touchdown that pulled the Seahawks to within 35-17.
Williams caught a two-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, but Manning was covering him on that play.
Earlier in the game, Tillman nearly had another interception only to have it slip through his fingers. He punished himself by doing 10 pushups on the field just like the Bears do in practice.
Tillman, who works out with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the offseason, knows the Bears’ secondary will have a much bigger challenge next week.
“He’s a great quarterback,” Tillman said. “I can’t say how good he is often enough.”