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Bears overwhelm Jags with defense in 41-3 win

Defense carries Bears to third straight win

Posted on Oct. 7, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Oct. 7, 2012 at 7:56 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Chicago Bears are turning their defense into a scoring offense.

Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs returned interceptions for touchdowns — their second in six days — and the Bears used stifling defense to overwhelm the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-3 Sunday.

The Bears (4-1) scored 38 unanswered points, including 35 in the second half, to win their third consecutive game. The streak has everything to do with defense.

Chicago has returned five interceptions for touchdowns in the last three weeks.

Tillman and Briggs returned two of the team’s five interceptions for touchdowns in Monday night’s 34-18 victory at Dallas. Safety Major Wright returned one the previous week against St. Louis.

Tillman’s second interception return for a TD this season — a 36-yarder in the third quarter — was a history maker. It was the first time since 1950 that Chicago returned interceptions for touchdowns in three consecutive games.

It also proved to be the decisive play in a game that saw as many punts (six) as points in the first half.

The Jaguars (1-4) never recovered and played the final quarter amid a chorus of boos. Jacksonville now heads into its bye week with serious questions about what owner Shad Khan will do with general manager Gene Smith, quarterback Blaine Gabbert and maybe even first-year coach Mike Mularkey.

Khan kept Smith during the ownership change and allowed him to handle the coaching search.

The Jaguars have been awful in three home games this season. They managed 117 yards in the home opener against Houston, 212 yards last week against Cincinnati and finished with 188 yards Sunday.

Gabbert completed 17 of 33 passes for 142 yards, with the two interceptions. The Bears stacked the line of scrimmage, clearly wanting to shut down Maurice Jones-Drew. It worked, as Jones-Drew finished with 56 yards on 12 carries.

Tillman’s touchdown seemed to sap the life out of the Jaguars, who then allowed consecutive scoring drives after playing stout defense in the first half.

Jay Cutler hooked up with rookie Alshon Jeffery for a 10-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter, and then found Brandon Marshall for a 24-yarder with 8:37 remaining.

Briggs’ score came after that, a 36-yard return that made it 34-3.

Cutler completed 23 of 39 passes for 292 yards, with two TDs and an interception. Jason Campbell played the final few minutes of the game.

Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards. Matt Forte ran 22 times for 107 yards.

Few outsiders gave Jacksonville a chance, calling this an obvious mismatch. The only thing that seemingly gave the Jaguars a chance was catching Chicago on a short week. The Bears got home from Dallas early Tuesday and were back on a plane Saturday.

As surprising as the Jaguars were early, they were equally disappointing late.

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP—NFL


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