Bears Win In Record Breaking Fashion
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 5, 2012 5:20PM
The Bears scored in just about every way imaginable in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans. For the first time in team history, they scored 28 first quarter points. The Bears also became the first team in NFL history to score touchdowns on a blocked punt, an interception return, a rushing TD and a passing TD in the first quarter of a game. While they slowed the scoring pace after, the Bears still managed to score more points than any Bears team since the Carter administration as they demolished the Titans 51-20. As has been the case much of the season, the offense relied on defense and special teams to lead the way.
The Bears' first score of the afternoon came on special teams, when Sherrick McManis blocked a Titans punt which was recovered by Corey Wootton, who ran five yards for a touchdown.
A penalty on J'Marcus Webb called in the Bears' end zone put the Titans on the board with an unusual safety. Later, Devin Hester finally broke loose for a 44-yard punt return to the Titans' 8-yard-line, setting up Matt Forte's rushing TD that gave the Bears a 14-2 lead. The Bears extended their lead when Brian Urlacher snatched a pass thrown across the middle of the field, and ran 46 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 21-2. Charles Tillman's second forced fumble of the quarter set up Jay Cutler's pass to Brandon Marshall for a touchdown that put the Bears ahead 28-2 at the end of the first quarter. The Bears added a field goal early in the second quarter which the Titans answered just before halftime, giving the Bears a 31-5 advantage at the break.
Tennessee scored their first touchdown of the afternoon in the third quarter, when Matt Hasselback connected with Nate Washington for a 30-yard touchdown pass. The Bears countered with field goals on their next two possessions and then a 39-yard strike from Cutler to Marshall in the end zone which capped a 5 play, 65-yard drive to put the Bears up 44-12. Charles Tillman's fourth forced fumble was recovered by Kevin Hayden deep in Titans territory set up Marshall's third TD catch and put the Bears over the half century mark in points. With most of the Bears starters on the bench, Tennessee's Chad Johnson broke off an 80-yard touchdown score, to which the Titans tacked on a two-point conversion. Final score 51-20.
Even with the 52 points scored, the most by a Bears team since 1980, the offense did not bring their A-game on Sunday. Cutler did connect on 19 of 26 passes for 229 yards, 3 TD passes and a 138.1 QB rating. Marshall caught all three of those scoring passes, and a total of eight catches for 122 yards. But there were few other receiving options, as Matt Forte was second in receiving with 2 catches for 45 yards. Earl Bennett caught four passes, but for just 22 yards. Forte added 103 yards on the ground, including a 46-yarder that keyed the Bears first scoring drive of the second half. Armando Allen added 32 yards on 10 carries in mop up duty.
Defense and special teams were the big stories. Charles Tillman channeled his inner Rock'em Sock'em Robot, forcing four fumbles by forcefully punching the ball out of Titan's hands. Brian Urlacher will be fighting Tillman for NFC defensive player of the week honors, as he also forced a fumble, recovered another and had the 46-yard pick six. Special teams scored on McManis' block and Hester's 44-yard punt return set up another of the team's quick TD scores. The Bears offense needed to accumulate just 21 combined yards to score their two first quarter touchdowns thanks the field position that the defense and special teams provided—when those squads weren't scoring on their own.
The Bears defense has now scored seven touchdowns on interception returns in eight games, which is just two short of the NFL record while only halfway through the season. The Bears now have 30 overall takeaways, which is at least four more than any other team. For all the concerns about their age, the Bears have shown that they have among the most dynamic defenses we've seen in a long time.
With Sunday's win, the Bears hit the midway point on their schedule with a 7-1 record that ties them for second best in the NFL. The Bears now enter the toughest stretch of the schedule, however, starting with next weekend's battle against the 7-1 Houston Texans in what just might be a Super Bowl preview. The following week, they face the 6-2 San Francisco 49ers. And the surprising Minnesota Vikings round out their November slate.