Bears rout Titans with parade of takeaways
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If only for a moment, thousands of angry Bears fans stewed in their seats.
They had spent their hard-earned money on plane tickets, hotel rooms, cab rides and tickets to LP Field to see their beloved team play on the road. And now that they had arrived to the stadium, after all of that time and effort, they were subjected to an ugly display.
It was a scoreboard video highlight of the Green Bay Packers scoring a touchdown more than 600 miles away.
As far as the highlights happening in front of the ever-increasing caravan of traveling Bears fans, well, they were good. Great, actually. Historically great.
The Bears’ 51-20 win against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday was too one-sided to label as just another victory. It was a demolition, a bulldozing, an exercise that bordered on bullying.
Six touchdowns. Five takeaways. Three field goals for good measure.
Add it up, and the Bears (7-1) left the field with their highest point total in almost 32 years.
“Today was just ridiculous,” Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton said with a chuckle as he and his teammates prepared to fly home. “I mean, the looks on everyone’s faces when it was happening – especially the coaches – they were like, ‘What the [heck] is going on?’ ”
History is going on.
Charles Tillman forced four fumbles in four quarters, a wild statistic even by his standards.
The Bears’ defense scored its seventh touchdown in eight games, a wild statistic even by theirs.
The Bears’ seven interception returns for touchdowns are within two of the all-time record of nine, which was set by the 1961 San Diego Chargers. The Bears are three defensive touchdowns shy of the overall record of 10, which was set by the Seattle Seahawks in 1998.
Did we mention that the regular season is only one-half complete?
“The sky is the limit,” said Tillman, who has seven forced fumbles this season and 36 in his career. “I think, each week, we do want to get better. Our goal isn’t to peak right at Week 8. We want to keep peaking each week.”
It might be hard to top Sunday’s display, which included touchdowns in all three phases and so much orange and blue that Bears coach Lovie Smith dubbed LP Field as “Soldier Field South.” Corey Wootton returned a blocked punt 5 yards for one touchdown, Matt Forte plowed 8 yards for another and Jay Cutler connected with favorite target Brandon Marshall for three more.
Then there was Urlacher, who picked off Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and rumbled 46 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown late in the first quarter. Urlacher joined Tillman (two), Lance Briggs (two), Major Wright and Tim Jennings as defensive players to score this season.
In eight NFL seasons, cornerback Kelvin Hayden never has been a part of anything quite like this.
“You’re not around stuff like this every day,” said Hayden, who won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts during the 2006 season. “I’ve been around the league. I’ve played on some good defenses that were able to force turnovers. But nothing like this.
“This is a special group. We just want to keep it going.”
Yet it’s unreasonable to expect the Bears’ defense to keep up its record-setting pace, especially as the schedule turns tough in the second half with a bevy of plus-.500 opponents.
“We’re going to keep trying,” Urlacher said. “I know that much. That’s all we can do.
“There are going to be times when we can’t do this, but we’re definitely going to keep trying to do it every week and keep practicing it. It’s worked so far.”
It has worked better than any point of Smith’s nine-year tenure as the Bears’ coach. But with eight games remaining and expectations for a long playoff run after that, Smith isn’t ready to declare that this is the best defense he has coached.
“It’s a little early for that,” Smith said. “We like where we are right now.
“I know the defense is doing some things that no other defense has done that I’ve been a part of – you know, scoring touchdowns, the amount of takeaways we’ve been able to get. That is special, what we have going at the halfway point.”
Melton smiled when asked about creating history.
“I don’t even know what the history is,” Melton said. “I know we’re creating something special. I know that.”