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‘Old’ men of Bears’ defense have stingy down pat this season

Updated: November 25, 2012 11:52AM

The Bears’ ‘‘Over The Hill Gang’’ is still getting older and playing younger.

With Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers leading the way, the Bears maintained their No. 1 ranking in the most important defensive statistic of them all — points allowed per game (13.0).

Even with the Detroit Lions’ touchdown with 30 seconds to play that broke the shutout, the Bears’ defense maintained its NFL lead in net points allowed. The defense has allowed 64 points and scored 35 for a net of 29 (4.8 points per game). The San Francisco 49ers (12.3) and Houston Texans (12.7) are next.

‘‘Same thing we’ve been doing all year,’’ said Urlacher, who was credited with seven tackles, one tackle for loss and two pass breakups. ‘‘We played discipline [and] got some takeaways, like we always do.’’

The Lions’ 99 rushing yards dropped the Bears from first to second in rushing defense, behind the idle San Diego Chargers. Overall, the Bears are sixth in total defense.

‘‘They say they’re getting older, but they’re not that old,’’ Lions guard Rob Sims said. ‘‘Urlacher is still playing well. Henry Melton played well. Those guys are good players. They’re together for a reason, and it shows.’’

Sunday stuff

After beating the Lions, the Bears (5-1) will play the Carolina Panthers (1-5) on a short week Sunday at Soldier Field. The Bears are the only NFL team that has yet to play on back-to-back Sundays. And they won’t until they face the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 4 after playing the Panthers.

The Bears have two more prime-time games, pending the NFL’s flex schedule — the Texans on ‘‘Sunday Night Football’’ on Nov. 11 and the 49ers on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ on Nov. 19. They play eight of their final nine games on Sundays.

Bits and pieces

With four takeaways (three on defense, one on special teams) and no giveaways, the Bears lead the NFL in turnover-differential with plus-13 (21 takeaways, eight giveaways).

Brandon Marshall (41 receptions, 577 yards) is on pace for 109 receptions for 1,539 yards. Both would be Bears franchise records.

◆ The Bears are 9-2 on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ under coach Lovie Smith and 8-2 after playing on Monday nights, including a 41-3 victory at Jacksonville on Oct. 7.

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