Stephen Paea promises Bears’ sack pack is ‘going to get after Romo’
BY MARK POTASH mpotash@suntimes September 23, 2012 11:06PM
Rookie Shea McClellin and other Bears bring down Rams QB Sam Bradford in the third quarter, one of six sacks by the team. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 23, 2012 1:58AM
Stephen Paea didn’t have to look at the film and he wasn’t about to take 24 hours to enjoy this one. He already was looking forward to Dallas.
‘‘We’re not going to sit here and be comfortable. We’re going to get after [Tony] Romo next week,’’ the Bears’ second-year defensive tackle said in the Bears locker room Sunday. ‘‘I feel like coach [Rod] Marinelli is going to do a great job of preparing us to get after Romo.’’
When you’re as hot as the Bears’ defensive line is, the next game can’t come quickly enough. The Bears sacked Sam Bradford six times and forced several incompletions and other mistakes with constant pressure in a 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams at Soldier Field.
The Bears have 14 sacks in their first three games — an impressive statistic that is not skewed by one big game or one phenomenal player or a blitz-based, element-of-surprise scheme. Eight defenders, including all seven active defensive linemen, have at least a share of a sack so far — equalling the number of players who had at least one sack all of last season.
After sacking the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers five times in their last game, the Bears were even better against Bradford. Israel Idonije (21/2), Amobi Okoye, Paea, linebacker Nick Roach and Julius Peppers (half-sack) had sacks against the Rams. The three times the Bears had five sacks in a game last year, they had one in the following game.
‘‘We have a little bit more depth [this season],’’ said Peppers, who shared a sack with Israel Idonije in the third quarter that atoned for a personal foul penalty that kept alive a Rams drive. ‘‘Guys got better since last year. We have a good rotation that keeps us fresh. And the end result is seen in the stats.’’
Bradford, who had passer ratings of 105.1 against the Lions and 117.6 against the Redskins in his first two games, was 18-for-35 for 152 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 39.2 rating against the Bears. The Rams, who averaged 351 net yards in their first two games, had 160 against the Bears.
‘‘The best part about it is we’re fighting for the sacks,’’ Paea said. ‘‘There’s not just one person on the quarterback, but two or three. We have to play as a team.’’
Cornerback Tim Jennings made one of the biggest plays of the game on his own — defending a bang-bang fourth-and-one pass on a slant route to Brandon Gibson. But almost every other key play, including the Jennings deflection that led to Major Wright’s clinching interception and touchdown return, was a result of pressure from the defensive front.
‘‘This is our defense,’’ safety Chris Conte said. ‘‘We’re playing the same as we’ve always played. We have a lot of good chemistry going on right now — the guys believe in each other. On the back end we believe in the pass rush.
‘‘I think they believe in us to give them time to get after the quarterback. We’re just working well together. We do what we do. And we’re always going to do what we do. As long as we execute we’re going to do well.’’