NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After watching the Bears defense and special teams score touchdowns in the first quarter Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Marshall wanted to join the party.
The Pro Bowl receiver did just that, catching nine passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns in the Bears' 51-20 victory at LP Field. Marshall's first TD reception, a 13-yarder, put the Bears on top 28-2. His second and third scores came after the lead had swelled to 37-12 in the second half.
|Brandon Marshall caught three touchdown passes in the Bears' 51-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans at LP Field.|
Marshall has now topped 100 yards in four of his eight games with the Bears. With 59 receptions for 797 yards and seven TDs, he's on pace to set franchise records with a career-high 118 catches, 1,594 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Happy homecoming: In his first NFL regular-season game in Nashville since last playing at Vanderbilt in 2005, Jay Cutler completed 19 of 26 passes for 229 yards with three TDs, no interceptions and a 138.1 passer rating that was the fourth best of his career and third best in four seasons with the Bears.
"It's special for guys when they get a chance to come back home where they played their college ball, and your second home is here and all that," said coach Lovie Smith. "We knew that it was important. It was a big game for him and he played that way.
"You want to come home like that and have that type of game and you want to be able to throw to a receiver like Brandon Marshall."
Cutler was replaced by Jason Campbell midway through the fourth quarter after throwing TD passes of 39 and 5 yards to Marshall early in the final period.
"Cutler has just a sense out there that a lot of guys don't," Marshall said, "and that's what makes him special, making those type of plays, plays where he just has a great feel for what's going on on the other side of the ball. I'm excited to be back with him and be a part of it."
Wildcat formation: Two Northwestern alums teamed up to produce the Bears' first touchdown as Sherrick McManis blocked Brett Kern's punt and Corey Wootton returned it five yards for a score.
"It was just a heck of a play by Sherrick," Wootton said. "The ball popped up and it was right above his head. I just grabbed it and tried to rumble into the end zone."
It was the Bears' first special teams TD this season. The unit almost generated a second, but Devin Hester was dragged down at the Tennessee 8 after a 44-yard punt return.
"It normally takes all three phases and we got some good plays out of our special teams, not only on the punt block but Devin Hester, that return, we've been waiting for that," Smith said. "Hopefully we can keep building off of it."
Fourth Phase: Bears fans who packed LP Field by the thousands saw their team score its most points in a road game since Oct. 13, 1963 in a 52-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
"We knew it would be tough down here," Smith said. "But it's always easier when you have that many fans that come out and support you. It seems like each [road] game we get more and more. This was another time where we had 'Soldier Field south' down here."
Moving up: In rushing for 103 yards on just 12 carries, Matt Forte topped 100 yards for the 14th time in his career, tying Neal Anderson for third place on the Bears' all-time list behind Hall of Famers Walter Payton (77) and Gale Sayers (20).
The Bears are now 13-1 when Forte rushes for at least 100 yards. He produced his team's two longest plays from scrimmage Sunday with a 47-yard reception and a 46-yard run.
News and notes: The Bears have now scored 133 points in three games against AFC South opponents, previously beating the Colts 41-21 and the Jaguars 41-3. ... Defensive tackle Henry Melton (back) and defensive end Israel Idonije (knee) both missed parts of Sunday's game with injuries before returning. ... When scoring a defensive touchdown, the Bears are now 20-2 since 2005 and 5-0 this season.