After producing two takeaways in the first five games this season, the Bears defense generated three for the second straight week Sunday in a 17-3 win over the Panthers at Soldier Field.
As was the case last weekend in Baltimore, the Bears converted the three turnovers into 14 points. On Sunday, rookie Eddie Jackson scored two touchdowns on a 75-yard fumble return and a 76-yard interception return before linebacker Danny Trevathan added a late interception.
As a team, the Bears have now produced nine takeaways in seven games this season after mustering an all-time franchise-low 11 last year.
"We preached it a lot during this offseason," said coach John Fox. "I think our coaching staff has done a tremendous job. The players have done a tremendous job of buying in. Not that we didn't do it last year or the year before that. But again, it's buy-in.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton attempts a pass while under pressure by the Bears defense.
"We made some acquisitions this offseason and we had some guys getting back. We've even been nicked up a little bit on that side of the ball this season, but we've had enough depth. It's a tribute to those guys in the locker room. They're working hard and I think you're seeing flashes of it this season. It's turned into those takeaways last week and it continued this week."
Settling for three: Fox had a humorous and honest response when asked why he chose to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with the Bears leading 14-3 late in the first half.
"You do something on first down; it didn't work," Fox said. "You do something on second down; it didn't work. You do something on third down; it didn't work. What on earth makes you think something good is going to happen on fourth down? I'll just make it simple for you."
After Jordan Howard lost one yard on second-and-goal from the 2, officials initially awarded the Bears a touchdown when quarterback Mitchell Trubisky dove for the pylon on third-and-goal from the 2. But the call was overturned by a replay review and the ball was placed inside the 1.
Connor Barth followed with a 19-yard field goal that gave the Bears a 17-3 lead.
Big chunk: The Bears produced nearly half of their 153 total yards of offense Sunday on a single play—Tarik Cohen's 70-yard reception from Trubisky. The rookie quarterback put some air under the ball deep down the middle, allowing his teammate to run under it.
"I felt like it got there quick and then I felt like I had a lot of space to make some moves," Cohen said. "Then I was just hungry for the end zone. I just had my eyes set on."
Cohen picked up extra yards thanks to a downfield block by tight end Dion Sims before being tackled at the Panthers' 5-yard line, setting up Barth's field goal.
"We were working on that play this week," Trubisky said. "[Cohen] had a nice double move in the corner, and Dion took the safety out. As soon as that safety goes and Tarik beats his corner, I just gave him a pass. If I could've led him a little more, he could've walked into the end zone. I just wanted to get it to him so he could do the rest."
Roster news: Receiver Markus Wheaton (groin), cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring), running back Benny Cunningham (hamstring), linebacker John Timu (ankle/knee) and center/guard Hroniss Grasu (hand) sat out Sunday's game with injuries. Defensive lineman John Jenkins was also inactive. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, who had missed the previous four games with a pectoral injury, was active but did not play Sunday.
News and notes: The Bears have now allowed three points or less in the first half in three straight games for the first time since 2005…. The Bears have scored three defensive touchdowns in their last two games after producing two in their previous 50 contests. … Linebacker Christian Jones led the Bears with 11 tackles. …Panthers star linebacker Luke Kuechly did not play Sunday due to a concussion he sustained in Carolina's previous game Oct. 12 against the Eagles.