JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs have scored more touchdowns than Matt Forte this season.
And the Chicago Bears aren’t complaining.
Tillman and Briggs returned interceptions for touchdowns – their second in six days – and the Bears used stifling defense to overwhelm the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-3 Sunday. Tillman and Briggs became the first teammates in NFL history to return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive weeks.
“This one was an easier catch,” Tillman said. “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 (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 last Monday night’s win at Dallas. Major Wright returned one the previous week vs. St. Louis.
Tillman’s second of the season – a 36-yarder in the third quarter – proved to be the decisive play in a game that saw as many punts (six) as points in the first half.
What prompted Chicago’s turnaround? Players credited coach Lovie Smith’s halftime message.
“He basically cursed us out without cursing,” Tillman said. “He raised his voice and gave us that mean, surly, stern look and we responded to that. He put a little spark in our rear end. We started getting to the quarterback in the second half. We were a little flat in the first half and came out with a sense of urgency.”
The Bears finished with 501 yards of offense, 309 in the second half, and held Jacksonville to 45 yards after the break.
“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. It’s the guys in this locker room. There’s no one we can bring in to help. We got to look man to man at each other and figure out what we’re going to do.”
The Jaguars have lost 18 of their last 24 games.
Gabbert completed 17 of 33 passes for 142 yards, with the two interceptions. The Bears stacked the line to shut down Jones-Drew. It worked, as Jones-Drew finished with 56 yards on 12 carries.
“The defense put up some points again,” said Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who was 23 of 39 for 292 yards, with two TDs and an interception. “We’re never really out of a game with those guys on defense. They play such good football. They hold teams to few yards and a lot of punts.”
Brandon Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards. Forte ran 22 times for 107 yards.