Bears make NFL history, overwhelm Jaguars 41-3

Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs have been Chicago Bears

teammates for a decade, watching each other grow from talented

rookies to entrenched starters to savvy veterans.

If they weren’t forever linked before, they surely are now.

Tillman and Briggs made NFL history Sunday by becoming the first

teammates to return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive

weeks. Tillman’s score was pivotal in a 41-3 victory at

Jacksonville.

”We’re still going strong 10 years later,” Tillman said.

The Bears (4-1) scored 38 unanswered points in the second half

to win their third consecutive game. The streak has everything to

do with defense. Chicago has returned five interceptions for

touchdowns in those games.

Tillman and Briggs returned two of the team’s five INTs for

scores in Monday night’s 34-18 victory at Dallas. Major Wright

returned one the previous week against St. Louis.

Tillman’s second of the season – a 36-yarder in the third

quarter Sunday – proved to be the decisive play in a game that saw

as many punts (six) as points in the first half.

”This one was an easier catch,” Tillman said, recalling his

juggling pick of Tony Romo’s pass six days earlier. ”Last week, it

was, `Is he really throwing me the ball?’ This week was normal.

This one was easier. It came at a good time. We needed a lift, and

that score got us rolling to the point the offense started putting

up points after that.”

The Bears finished with 501 yards of offense, 309 in the second

half, and held Jacksonville to 45 yards after the break. The

Jaguars ran just four plays in the third quarter.

”It’s been the same thing for five years,” Jaguars running

back Maurice Jones-Drew said. ”Obviously, we’re not working hard

enough. I don’t know. We’re just not playing well right now. We

have to figure something out. No one here is going to save us. We

got to look man to man at each other and figure out what we’re

going to do.”

The Jaguars (1-4) never recovered from Tillman’s touchdown and

played the final quarter amid a chorus of boos. Jacksonville now

heads into its bye week with serious questions about what direction

the team is headed under general manager Gene Smith, quarterback

Blaine Gabbert and maybe even first-year coach Mike Mularkey.

With Smith assembling the roster, the Jaguars have lost 18 of

their last 24 games.

They have been downright pathetic in three home games this

season. They managed 117 yards in the home opener against Houston,

212 last week against Cincinnati and 189 Sunday.

”I can talk up here all night about what we did, but that’s not

going to cure anything,” Gabbert said. ”We’ve got to come out in

the second half and play better football. It starts with me. When

you throw two Pick 6’s in a half, that’s awful. I’ve got to find a

way to fix that and get this offense going a little bit.”

Gabbert completed 17 of 33 passes for 142 yards, with two

interceptions and a lost fumble. The Bears stacked the line of

scrimmage, clearly wanting to shut down Jones-Drew. It worked, as

Jones-Drew finished with 56 yards on 12 carries.

Following Tillman’s score, the Jaguars allowed consecutive

touchdown drives after playing stout defense in the first half.

Jay Cutler hooked up with rookie Alshon Jeffery for a 10-yard

score on the first play of the fourth quarter and then found

Brandon Marshall for a 24-yarder with 8:37 remaining in the

game.

Briggs’ score came after that, a 36-yard return that made it

34-3.

”The defense put up some points again,” said Cutler, who

completed 23 of 39 passes for 292 yards. ”We’re never really out

of a game with those guys on defense.”

Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards. Matt Forte, who has one

touchdown this season, ran 22 times for 107 yards.

Few outsiders gave the Jaguars a chance before the game. The

only thing that seemingly was in Jacksonville’s favor was catching

Chicago on a short week. The Bears got home from Dallas early

Tuesday and were back on a plane Saturday.

That may have contributed to Chicago’s slow start. But it

mattered little in the second half – thanks mostly to the

interceptions.

”I know they know how important it is to take the ball away,”

Bears coach Lovie Smith said. ”There is an emphasis on it. And

after a while, you see one guy doing it, you want to join in on

that action. It’s discouraging to the offense. We normally win when

we score one time, and it’s probably safe to say we haven’t lost

when we score a couple times on the defensive side.”

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