Defense holding things together for the Chicago Bears
CHICAGO — Sunday, the Chicago Bears got back to winning with defense. And if they continue to play the way they did against the Rams, they just may be able to keep it up.
Of course, Bears fans hope they won’t have to as the new offensive packages come together. But they didn’t Sunday, and it didn’t matter. That’s because the Bears’ pass rush was relentless, and the play from the defensive backfield continued on its upswing. And — of course — because they were playing against the Rams.
“It’s nice to be able to make plays against anybody,” defensive end Israel Idonije said after his 2 1/2-sack day. “We are finishing plays this year, and that’s all we talked about in the offseason. And we are making them count, like we did today.”
What’s coming out of all of it is the one thing the Bear defenders talk about the most: Turnovers. And mores specifically, turnovers that result in points.
“That’s what we want; that’s what we always want,” said Major Wright, who turned one of the team’s two interceptions into a touchdown Sunday. “We want to score. We want to get this team some points, and we finally did that.”
They were also pretty good at keeping St. Louis from scoring. While holding the Rams to two field goals, the Bears gave up just 160 yards, the third-lowest total by a Bears opponent in the Lovie Smith era. They had six sacks to give them a league-leading 14 on the season, the most through three games for a Bears defense since 1987.
“Our defensive line has played outstanding all year, and they really set the tone,” Smith said. “I felt like we had control of the game. And Tim Jennings, well he’s been outstanding.”
Jennings had his league-leading fourth interception, and had his hand in another, tipping the ball to Wright for the score that sealed it. He’s tipped two balls this season that have turned into picks.
“I don’t know the exact total numbers we gave up, but it’s about us just being out there, flying around and making plays,” Jennings said. “I’m pretty satisfied.”
That wasn’t the case for the players on offense. They mustered just 274 yards of total offense, 171 through the air. They accounted for just one TD and three field goals. But this was one occasion when the defense had the offense’s back.
“It’s good for our defense, but I’d rather have more points. I’d rather have it lopsided the other way, 45-6, something like that,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said with a smile. “But we’re going to have games like that this year, that’s the type of team we are, I think. We’re just going to have to grind them out.”
Right now, with a defense ranked fifth in scoring (16.7 points per game) and sixth in yards allowed (279.0 per game), a little offense just could be enough.
With guys like Idonije, Wright and Jennings stepping it up — as well other big contributors on Sunday like linemen Stephen Paea (two QB pressures, a hit, a sack and a tackle for loss) and Amobi Okoye (a sack and a tackle for loss) — this year’s Bears team may not look as different as everybody thought.
One thing that looks the same as some of the good Bear teams from the recent past is the opportunistic defense.
“That’s how the defense is going,” Wright said. “You’ve always got to expect something is going to happen.”
Bears held Rams to 160 yards and two field goals with six sacks and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. St. Louis QB Sam Bradford, who came in with the NFL’s fourth-best passer rating, was at 39.2 for the day.