After allowing 11 touchdowns in back-to-back losses to the Patriots and Packers, a stingy Bears defense carried the team to a 21-13 win at Soldier Field for the second straight Sunday.
One week after beating the Vikings by the same score, the Bears generated four takeaways and five sacks against old friends Lovie Smith and Josh McCown in improving to 5-6.
"Josh does a great job of escaping out of the pocket," said defensive end David Bass, who forced a turnover with a strip/sack of McCown. "He's a fast and mobile quarterback and we saw that last year. We studied the offensive line that we were going against and tried to find their weakness to maximize every opportunity we got."
The Bears have permitted only one touchdown in each of their last two games and the 26 points they've allowed are the fewest in back-to-back contests since Oct. 7-22, 2012 when they permitted 10 in back-to-back wins over the Jaguars and Lions.
While Smith preached takeaways throughout his tenure in Chicago, four of the six players who combined to produce the four turnovers Sunday joined the Bears after Smith had left the team.
One of them was Bass, who chased McCown as he scrambled to his left and stripped the ball from the unsuspecting quarterback. Rookie linebacker Christian Jones returned the fumble two yards to the Tampa Bay 13, setting up Kyle Long's 1-yard touchdown run to give the Bears a 21-10 lead.
"That right there was a coverage sack," Bass said. "I wasn't too happy about my pass rush. I was a little indecisive on that. I think we had a little twist going on inside, so they forced him to step back and get out and I just came around and sacked him."
Bass was surprised when he had an opportunity to force a fumble.
"[McCown] usually keeps two hands on the ball," Bass said. "That's what we've been seeing so far on film. When I saw the ball, I definitely wanted to go for that."
The four takeaways by the Bears matched a season-high set in a Week 2 win in San Francisco and came after they had forced only three turnovers in their previous five games.
"It's all about Bears defense," said nickel back Demontre Hurst, who forced a key fumble late in the third quarter. "We try to get turnovers. We emphasize it every day at practice and we pretty much did what we were supposed to do today."
Hurst stripped receiver Vincent Jackson from behind at the Bears' 4-yard line after a 24-yard reception late in the third quarter. Tim Jennings returned the fumble 17 yards to the 21.
"Our coaches say that when you come from behind just make a conscious effort of getting the ball out," Hurst said. "He never saw me. I was on the blind side and it just clicked in me to just go for the ball and I got the ball."
The five sacks were a season high for the Bears and their most since they also had five last Dec. 1 in an overtime loss to the Vikings in Minnesota. Stephen Paea recorded two sacks for the first time in his four NFL seasons, increasing his season total to a career-high six.
"His effort level was good today," said coach Marc Trestman. "He created some havoc inside, amidst the other guys. But it's really the four guys, the five guys, six guys working together in the pass rush. We got better at it today. We're moving forward, and I think that was a big part of creating those turnovers was just the pressure we put on Josh."