8:27 PM EST, November 13, 2011
Charles Tillman stepped in front of yet another horrible pass by Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, grabbed the ball and raced 45 yards. See ya. Later. Ballgame, even though almost half the ballgame remained.
Tillman’s score marked the Bears’ second straight pick-six, and it couldn’t have been more fitting.
Tillman had earned that star turn. He gave the Bears a game. He was better than Detroit’s best.
The Bears’ top cornerback had taken on the Lions top receiver, and Tillman gave Calvin Johnson no chance.
And there was Tillman, running away from Johnson and the Lions the way he refused to let Johnson run away with this game.
Peanut beat Megatron. Red zone, third down, didn’t matter. Tillman transformed one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the NFL into a muppet.
Tillman lined up tight. Tillman played off. Didn’t matter. Tillman had Johnson. Tillman owned Johnson.
The Lions receiver who killed the Bears earlier this season was stumbling to 37 yards on five catches when Sunday’s outcome was in doubt. Tillman gave him the same physical treatment he gave the Eagles wideouts six days earlier. Johnson might not have reached the point as early as the third quarter that he quit, but he could see it from there.
In the first three quarters, Stafford targeted Johnson 17 times, but completed only six of them. Part of that speaks to how bad Stafford was, missing on nine straight passes during one stretch in the first half.
But that also speaks to how good Tillman was, making Johnson look as pedestrian as a Bears receiver.
Quick, someone tell the Lions that bad, dirty and stupid is no way to go through a season. They lost two fumbles on their first two series and committed two personal fouls on defense after that. Ten-nothing, Bears, just like that. Then the Lions punted to Devin Hester a couple times. Are the Lions new to this division? This league? This planet? Ten more Bears points. A fourth straight Bears win. Thanks for coming.
The Lions have lost three of four since beating the Bears on Oct. 10, and that win was against Tim Tebow. They don’t have a running game, their best receiver can be taken out of a game, their coach can make mind-numbingly horrific decisions such as kicking to the greatest returner in history and their reputation as a cheap and dirty team appears to work against them exponentially. Maybe the Lions can make the playoffs after this debacle, but that’s not how I’d bet. In fact, I like the Bears to host a playoff game more than I like the Lions to make the postseason at all.
As important and decisive as the victory was, the Bears had issues offensively. They displayed great early opportunism early, converting short fields, but they finished with only 216 yards, and while they ran for 109 yards, they averaged only 3.1 per carry. Jay Cutler completed 9 of 19 for 123 yards and endured worsening protection as the first half wore on. Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice tried to run people off the idea that the line was where it needed to be, and now he has a lot of evidence. The offense did enough against the Lions, but that won’t be enough the rest of the season. Unless you’re expecting the Bears to get six turnovers every game.
Julius Peppers lined up everywhere and showed up everywhere. He forced a fumble, recorded a sack and deflected a pass. But those numbers don’t do justice to explaining the way he made the Lions crazy.
Bogus personal foul call on Lance Briggs. He squared up and made the hit. He was playing football. Can someone explain to the NFL this isn’t a debutante ball?
Tim Jennings was beaten on a catch by Nate Burleson – twice, actually -- but still managed to poke the ball loose from behind and recover the fumble. Jennings seems more productive after the catch than before it.
And especially productive when he makes a catch on Stafford.
I suppose the Lions didn't quit in the third quarter because getting abused in Chicago beats doing anything in Detroit.
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