Bears offense, defense and special teams have complete game
BY SEAN JENSEN Sun-Times Media November 4, 2012 11:32PM
Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wootton (98) scores a touchdown after he recovered a blocked punt as Tennessee Titans punter Brett Kern, center, and safety Al Afalava (38) try to bring him down in the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Joe Howell)
Updated: December 6, 2012 11:48AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Before kickoff at LP Field on Sunday, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall scanned the locker room and appreciated his coaches and teammates.
“I said, ‘Man, I just want to do my part so I don’t let any of these guys down,’” Marshall said.
Once again, after the defense forced another turnover, the Bears offense squandered that opportunity by going three-and-out on consecutive series at the start of the first quarter. But the defense and special teams sparked a historic first quarter to build a 28-2 lead that ended with a 51-20 Bears victory over the Tennessee Titans.
The barrage of points started with a blocked punt by Sherrick McManis and a five-yard return by Corey Wootton midway through the first and included a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Brian Urlacher, the defense’s seventh score of this young season.
Feeling left out, though, the Bears offense regrouped and reloaded — with Marshall at the forefront.
“Offensively,” Marshall said, “we were just like, ‘Man, now we have to do our part.’ And that felt good to contribute – a little bit.”
The final statistics for the offense are encouraging: 358 net yards, 160 on the ground, with Marshall scoring three touchdowns and Jay Cutler posting a 138.1 passer rating. But the performance was deceiving because the pass protection was still spotty against a suspect defensive line (three sacks and five pressures allowed), and the offense didn’t exactly thrive when the game was still competitive.
That template may not cut it next Sunday at Soldier Field.
The slow starts and flaws of the offense have been masked the last two games, against clubs that have won a combined five games this season. But coming up are the 7-1 Houston Texans, arguably the best team in the AFC, which boasts a top-10 ranked offense and defense.
The Texans beat the Titans earlier this season by a score of 38-14.
On Sunday, though, the Bears reaped records.
The first team to score by ground, air, interception return and blocked punt or field goal.
First team in NFL history with seven interception return touchdowns in the first eight games.
First team since the 1961 San Diego Chargers with an interception return for a touchdown in five games during a six-game span.
The Titans, of course, were stunned. Afterwards, coach Mike Munchak was asked if his team quit.
“I think it is hard because of the score,” he said. “For some reason, that is where people want to go right away. No, I wouldn’t say we quit. I just don’t think we played very well.”