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Tillman repeats stellar performance

Posted Oct 7, 2012

Six days after returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown in Dallas, Charles Tillman picked off a pass and brought it back 36 yards for a TD in a 41-3 victory in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It was deja vu all over again Sunday for Charles Tillman.

Six days after returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown in the Bears' 34-18 win over the Cowboys, the Pro Bowl cornerback picked off a Blaine Gabbert pass near the same spot on the field and brought it back 36 yards for a score in a 41-3 trouncing of the Jaguars.

Charles Tillman intercepts a Blaine Gabbert pass and returns it for a touchdown in Sunday's 41-3 win over the Jaguars.
"Once the ball is in the air it's free, right?" Tillman said. "I'm greedy. Greed is good in all professions, so I just try to go get it. Our defense did a great job blocking, all 10 guys getting me in the end zone. The star of our defense is our defense. They got me in the end zone."

In scoring the eighth defensive touchdown of his career, Tillman broke the Bears record he shared with Mike Brown. With his 32nd interception, the 10-year veteran tied Donnell Woolford for the most interceptions by a cornerback in franchise history. They're third on the all-time list behind safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37).

In addition, Tillman's 30 forced fumbles are the most by any NFL defensive back since he entered the league in 2003.

"The guy just does everything you want a cornerback to do," said coach Lovie Smith. "He's got great size. He plays hard. He's got good hands. He'll tackle, and he's just got an uncanny knack for taking the football away. We like having him on our football team."

Tillman isn't very interested in the records he's setting.

"They mean nothing right now," he said. "I think when I retire, when it's all said and done and I'm done playing this game, I'll look back and say, 'Wow, those are some pretty cool stats.' Right now I'm just trying to have fun, take it one game at a time and one play at a time."

No fire and brimstone: The Bears broke a 3-3 tie by outscoring the Jaguars 38-0 in the second half, but Smith insists he didn't deliver a fiery halftime speech.

"It's the same message always," he said. "We were just letting everyone know exactly how we played. I didn't need to say an awful lot. We didn't play well. It wasn't Chicago Bears football. Guys were anxious to get some things corrected and get back out there in the second half."

Going for it: Facing fourth-and-one at the Jacksonville 45 on the opening possession of the second half, the Bears opted to keep their offense on the field.

Jay Cutler completed a 12-yard pass over the middle to Brandon Marshall, and a 15-yard penalty for roughing-the-passer moved the ball to the 18. Robbie Gould eventually capped the 17-play, 76-yard drive with a 31-yard field goal, giving the Bears a 6-3 lead.

"I felt like we had to [go for the first down]," Smith said. "We talked about how disappointed we were in the first half. We couldn't come out there and punt the ball right away. To me, that's an easy call to make. It's not like I was the only guy who wanted to go for it on fourth down. That really gave us some momentum."

High dive: Running back Michael Bush made a highlight-reel play when he hurdled two would-be tacklers to turn a screen pass into a 15-yard gain on third-and-15 late in the third quarter.

After Bush's 11-yard run on the next play, Cutler followed by hitting rookie Alshon Jeffery with a 10-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Bears a 20-3 lead.

Jeffery injured his hand on the TD and did not return. "We don't know the extent of the injury right now," Smith said. "But he couldn't finish the game, so we'll continue to monitor it."

Sack attack: Defensive end Corey Wootton recorded two of the Bears' three sacks, giving him 31/2 this season. It was the first multi-sack game of his three-year NFL career.

Wootton made a huge play late in the first half. Looking to snap a 3-3 tie, the Jaguars reached the Bears' 21-yard line when Wootton sacked Gabbert, forcing a fumble that fellow defensive end Julius Peppers recovered at the Chicago 23.

The fourth phase: Just as they did in Dallas, a large contingent of boisterous Bears fans made their presence known in Jacksonville in support of their team.

"At the hotel it was just unbelievable how many fans we had there," Smith said. "We saw them before the game. We heard them throughout the game [chanting] 'let's go bears.' I'm still hearing it. They had a big say in us fighting through some tough times early on."

News and notes: The Bears offensive line played another stellar game, opening holes for a rushing attack that generated 214 yards on 33 carries and protecting Cutler, who was only sacked once while throwing 39 passes. ... In addition to returning an interception for a touchdown for the second straight game, linebacker Lance Briggs also registered a sack. ... Receiver Earl Bennett (hand) and fullback Evan Rodriguez (knee) missed the game with injuries.

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