CHICAGO – In front of a sellout crowd and a national television audience, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman wasted little time in making his presence felt Monday at Soldier Field.
Tillman stepped in front of the first pass that was headed to Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The ball dropped to the ground and foreshadowed a quiet day for Detroit's Pro Bowl wide receiver.
It didn’t matter that Tillman was 3 inches shorter and 38 pounds lighter than his 6-foot-5, 236-pound counterpart.
Johnson entered Week 7 averaging more than 100 receiving yards a game, but Tillman held him to zero receptions until more than halfway through the third quarter. Johnson finished with three catches for 34 yards. After Tillman was whistled for pass interference, he responded by breaking up a pass against Johnson in the end zone.
Johnson should have had at least one reception on a play in which he was wide open across the middle, but the ball bounced off of his hands to spoil what would have been a first down.
After quieting Johnson, Tillman will have to prepare for smaller receivers in the next two weeks.
Next week’s Bears’ opponent, the Carolina Panthers, feature Steve Smith (5-foot-9, 185 pounds) as the No. 1 wide receiver. After that comes a road game against the Tennessee Titans, who feature wiry target Nate Washington (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) as the leading receiver.
Climbing the charts: Bears quarterback Jay Cutler surpassed Erik Kramer to move into fourth place in franchise history for passing yards.
Cutler passed for 150 yards against the Lions to give him 10,618 passing yards in 47 games with the Bears. He leapfrogged Kramer, who passed for 10,582 yards in 49 games with the Bears from 1994-98.
At this rate, Cutler is well on his way to becoming the Bears’ all-time leading passer. He trails Sid Luckman (14,686 yards), Jim Harbaugh (11,567 yards) and Jim McMahon (11,203 yards) in the top three.
Welcome back: Zack Bowman made a difference six days after re-signing with the Bears.
As an outside gunner on special teams, Bowman sprinted down the field in the third quarter and recovered a muffed punt at the Lions’ 27-yard-line. The Bears converted the special-teams takeaway into three points several minutes later when Robbie Gould drilled a 21-yard field goal to increase the lead to 13-0.
Bowman, 27, replaced injured teammate Sherrick McManis (hip) on the active roster. The fifth-year cornerback appeared in 46 games during his previous stint with the team from 2008-11.
Bears bits: Detroit’s Matthew Stafford became the third quarterback who was selected No. 1 overall to play against the Bears this season. The Bears have faced Andrew Luck (2012) and Sam Bradford (2010) in addition to Stafford (2009) and face Cam Newton (2011) next week. … The Bears’ healthy scratches included defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, guard Edwin Williams and tight end Brody Eldridge.