Bears bury Jaguars 41-3 as Charles Tillman kick-starts TD spree
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org October 7, 2012 10:02PM
Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (33) runs past Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) after intercepting a pass for a 36-yard touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
- JENSEN: Bears survive sluggish first half, then bury Jaguars in second
- Corey Wootton’s sack comes at an opportune time
- MORRISSEY: Charles in charge: Tillman interception brings Bears to life again
- Heavy dose of Marshall bails out Bears’ offense
- Jay Cutler sacked in the studio by Terry Bradshaw
- GRADING THE BEARS
- Jay Cutler has loads of ability, but his early picks are worrisome
Updated: November 9, 2012 6:18AM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — During the bye week, the Bears might want to give Charles Tillman some snaps at receiver.
For a second consecutive game Sunday, with the offense struggling, Tillman sparked the Bears with an interception return for a touchdown in a 41-3 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Tillman’s pick-six from 36 yards out late in the third quarter gave the Bears a 13-3 lead. It was his eighth career defensive touchdown, jumping him ahead of former Bears safety Mike Brown.
‘‘It was a bad one,’’ Jaguars offensive tackle Eben Britton said. ‘‘We just make too many mistakes. All week, we work our [butts] off, and it’s upsetting to have an outcome like that.’’
The Jaguars looked like a 1-3 team at the start.
But the Bears, who came in 3-1, didn’t look much better. After the defense forced a three-and-out on the opening series, 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.
The game was tied 3-3 at halftime. The Bears’ 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.
Meanwhile, the Bears didn’t muster much of a pass rush on second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert. That was helped late in the second quarter, with the Jaguars at the Bears’ 20-yard line, when defensive end Corey Wootton drilled Gabbert and forced a fumble, which Julius Peppers recovered.
‘‘That was not how we wanted to start the football game,’’ Bears coach Lovie Smith said. ‘‘But we know it’s always tough after a Monday night game and going on the road.
‘‘The heat [88 degrees at kickoff] probably bothered us an awful lot, but we just weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. Thank God they play two halves.’’
The Bears will put the fourth quarter in a special archive.
In the third quarter, they ploddingly moved the ball down the field on the opening series. But on third-and-goal from the 3, right tackle Gabe Carimi was flagged for consecutive false starts, and the Bears settled for a 31-yard field goal. On the next possession, Gabbert’s attempted pass to rookie Justin Blackmon was underthrown, and Tillman intercepted the ball and returned it for his touchdown.
The Bears kept piling on from there, scoring four more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the most remarkable a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Lance Briggs. He and Tillman become the first teammates in NFL history to score defensive touchdowns in consecutive games.
‘‘It’s unreal,’’ linebacker Brian Urlacher said. ‘‘I’ve never seen anything like it.’’
By the end of the game, the Bears’ offense had posted 501 net offensive yards and scored three touchdowns, too.
At 4-1, the Bears remain tied atop the NFC North with the Minnesota Vikings, who beat the visiting Tennessee Titans 30-7. The defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers (2-3) squandered a 21-3 halftime lead and lost 30-27 at Indianapolis.