NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lovie Smith demanded a fast start from his Chicago Bears after a sluggish performance a week ago. They certainly responded.
Charles Tillman forced four fumbles. Brian Urlacher scored on a 46-yard interception return. Plus, Chicago turned a blocked punt into a touchdown to start the scoring spree.
Jay Cutler threw three TD passes to Brandon Marshall just for good measure and the Bears put up their highest point total since 1980, routing the Tennessee Titans 51-20 on Sunday for their sixth straight win.
“We didn’t want to have a repeat of last week against Carolina,” Tillman said. “This week our whole motto was, ‘Let’s start fast.’ To create a turnover on the first play of the game was the mindset going into the game.”
Tillman did just that, stripping Titans receiver Kenny Britt on Tennessee’s first offensive play and proving how exceptionally dangerous these Bears are even when they don’t have the ball.
The Bears (7-1) scored a franchise-record 28 points in the first quarter. They took control by creating three turnovers in the first 13 minutes, resulting in 14 points. The defense has 28 takeaways, leading to an NFL-best plus-16 turnover ratio.
“It has to be upsetting when you know our reputation coming in,” Smith said. “It’s not like it’s the first one we’ve done. Every team we’ve played has the mindset that this team will strip the ball. That’s who we are.”
Urlacher became the latest Bears defender to score on an interception return. They have done it a club record seven times – no other NFL team had returned six for TDs through the first seven games of any season.
The Bears had already topped the 50-point mark with 10 minutes still left. They posted their highest-scoring game since matching a team record in a 61-7 win over Green Bay on Dec. 7, 1980. Chicago fans took over LP Field, booing any video highlights featuring the rival Packers and frequently chanting “Let’s go, Bears.”
“It was weird,” Cutler said of all the Bears fans. “I had to hush the crowd down in the red zone, and they got quiet really quick. We have the best fans in the world.”
The Titans (3-6) lost their second straight, giving up the most points since a 59-0 loss to New England on Oct. 18, 2009. Coach Mike Munchak said they had warned the Titans all week how crucial protecting the ball would be against the Bears.
“We made it easy on the Bears to beat us,” Munchak said. “But they took advantage of all the opportunities we gave them.”
Tennessee’s lone highlight when Chris Johnson scored on an 80-yard run in the fourth quarter. Johnson finished with 141 yards on 16 carries against the NFL’s best rushing defense, with a big chunk coming when he broke out and went up the right sideline with 10:09 left in the fourth quarter.
Tillman, the NFC defensive player for October, started the Bears’ first-quarter spree with the strip of Britt theBears’ 24th turnover this season. The cornerback also forced two fumbles by Johnson and later stripped tight end Jared Cook.
“He just finds a way of getting his hands on the ball, knocking the ball out and always being around the ball,” Johnson said.
Cutler tossed TDs of 13, 39 and 5 yards to Marshall and finished with 229 yards passing. Cutler, who starred in Nashville in college at Vanderbilt, spent the final 10 minutes watching Jason Campbell mop up. Matt Forte ran for a TD and finished with 103 yards.
Special teams also got in on the act, as Sherrick McManis blocked Brett Kern’s punt midway through the first quarter, leading to Corey Wootton’s 5-yard TD return on the recovery.