DETROIT – It wasn’t quite second-year safety Mike Brown returning interceptions for touchdowns in overtime in back-to-back games in 2001, but it was awfully close.
For the second time in five days, second-year safety Eddie Jackson returned an interception for a key second-half touchdown to lift the Bears to a narrow division win.
After picking off a Kirk Cousins pass and returning it 27 yards in Sunday night’s 25-20 victory over the Vikings, Jackson picked off a Matthew Stafford pass and brought it back 41 yards for a score Thursday, snapping a 16-16 tie in a 23-16 win over the Lions.
Jackson has now scored five defensive touchdowns in two seasons with the Bears, three more than any other NFL player during that span. Charles Tillman owns the franchise record with nine defensive TDs he set while playing 12 seasons from 2003-14.
“We just want to let the offense rest and try to score touchdowns,” Jackson said. “They’re always huge. Our mindset [on defense] is always to score.”
First score: Running back Taquan Mizzell scored his first NFL touchdown Thursday on a 10-yard pass from Chase Daniel, giving the Bears a 9-7 lead late in the first half.
“It was a play that we put in late this week and they chose me to do it, so I was so happy,” Mizzell said. “They gave me an opportunity and I was just happy about that. As soon as they called that, I had in my mind I might get a chance to score here.”
Mizzell appeared in three games with the Bears last year as a rookie. He spent the first eight weeks of this season on the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster Nov. 3. In four games, he’s averaged 15.0 yards on four kickoff returns, rushed for six yards on three carries and caught three passes for 26 yards and one TD.
“It feels great,” Mizzell said, “just to show me, a guy that just got brought up from the practice squad three weeks ago, that coaches really believe in me and really gave me an opportunity. I just thank them for that.”
“He has a good mix of being able to do things in the run game and in the pass game,” Nagy said. “He’s able to make some plays. We feel like we have some advantages with him in the pass game and then he’s able to run the ball, too.”
Vast improvement: The Bears improved their record against NFC North opponents to 3-1 this season, matching the total number of victories they compiled the past three years when they went 3-15 against division foes.
“I feel really, really good because it’s not easy,” Nagy said. “In this tough division, when you’re facing these teams in the division that we’re in, that’s a tall task. And what I like about it is that our guys, especially coming into today, there could’ve been excuses and [they could have felt] sorry for themselves. They didn’t do that.”
Making history: Thursday’s victory gave the Bears three wins in 12 days for the first time since Nov. 7-18, 2010. That year they beat the Bills 22-19 in Toronto and the Vikings 27-13 at Soldier Field on back-to-back Sundays before blanking the Dolphins 16-0 in Miami on Thursday Night Football. The 2010 Bears won the NFC North with an 11-5 record and reached the NFC Championship Game.
Continuing a trend: With two takeaways and one giveaway Thursday, the Bears still have not had a negative turnover differential in any game this season. It’s the first time that’s happened in their first 11 contests since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.
The Bears now lead the NFL with a plus-14 turnover ratio, 29 takeaways and 20 interceptions and are tied for first with 15 forced fumbles. They have generated at least two turnovers in 10 of their 11 games this season.