Opportunistic 'D' the difference for Bears
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Opportunistic 'D' the difference for Bears

The Bears have built a winning record largely on the ability of their defense to score. But most of their wins have come at the expense of teams that have losing records. We take a look at how the Bears' defensive scores turned the tide in their games.

The Chicago Bears have been a source of debate over the last several seasons. No team in the league is more prolific on defense than the Bears – a penchant for playmaking that has made them a 7-3 team in the thick of the playoff chase.

Where the debate has come in is that it seems as though the Bears depend on turnovers and scores by their defense and special teams more than having a consistent offense. If the Bears don't get touchdowns from defense and special teams, they don't win nearly as often. But, the other side of the argument says that the turnovers come out of scheme, talent and design. Through 10 games, the Bears have intercepted 19 passes and forced 21 fumbles, recovering 11 of them. The simple reality of the NFL is that teams that average causing three turnovers a game win most of them.

The Bears not only force turnovers, they have turned their defense into an offensive weapon. The Bears have scored as many touchdowns on interception returns (seven) as they have rushing touchdowns on offense. As Vikings QB Christian Ponder prepares for the Bears, he said they have a defense to be concerned with. What makes it the most frightening is that they don't try to over-think the process or disguise what they're doing. They come right at you and impose their will on opposing offenses.

"They're very opportunistic," Ponder said. "(They create) a lot of turnovers. We saw what they did against Dallas and other teams. They're creating a lot of turnovers and they're scoring a lot of points on defense. We know they're going to be tough. The good thing is their defense, you kind of know what you're going to get. They're not exotic. You see a lot of man coverage on third down, some two Tampa, some cover three mixed in. But they don't have to do a lot because they're a good team. They're a sound, disciplined team and we'll just have to find plays and make them."

Of their seven wins, defense has played a critical role in six of them – the offense did most of the damage in a 41-21 Week 1 win over rookie Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

You can call it opportunistic. You can even call it lucky. But the facts speak for themselves. The Bears find ways to make plays on defense that win games and it's consistently been a huge defensive play that has sparked the Bears to victory. Consider the following:

Week 3 vs. St. Louis – Ahead 13-6 with 9:30 to play, Major Wright takes an interception back for a touchdown to give the Bears a 20-6 lead. They would end up winning the game 23-6.

Week 4 at Dallas – Ahead 3-0 late in the second quarter, Charles Tillman intercepts Tony Romo and returns the pick 25 yards for a touchdown to take a 10-0 lead. With the score 17-7 with six minutes left in the third quarter with Dallas driving, Lance Briggs intercepts Romo and take it back 74 yards for a touchdown to give Chicago a 24-7 lead. The Bears win the game 34-18.

Week 5 at Jacksonville – With Chicago leading 6-3 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Tillman returns an interception 36 yards for a touchdown, opening the floodgates for the Bears. Midway through the fourth quarter, Briggs gets back into the action, bringing an interception back 36 yards for another touchdown. Chicago ends up blowing out the Jaguars 41-3.

Week 7 vs. Detroit – The Bears come off their bye week and force four turnovers (three fumbles and one interception) in a 13-7 win over the Lions.

Week 8 vs. Carolina – Trailing 20-7 with seven minutes to play, the Bears cut the deficit to 20-14 with 6:52 to play after a touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Kellen Davis. On the next play, Tim Jennings intercepts Cam Newton and returns it 25 yards for a score to give Chicago a 20-19 lead. As time expires, Robbie Gould hits a 41-yard field goal to give the Bears a 23-22 win.

Week 9 at Tennessee – Eight minutes into a scoreless game, defensive end Corey Wootton scoops up a blocked punt and returns it for a touchdown. Three minutes later Brian Urlacher returns an interception 46 yards for a score to give Chicago a 21-2 lead. The Bears coast to a 34-12 win.

The Bears have come to depend on their defense to win games. If they don't get the turnovers or defensive touchdowns, they have struggled. In their three losses, they have been outscored 68-23. Coincidentally, the teams they have lost to – the Packers, Texans and 49ers – are the only teams other than the Colts that have a winning record.

The Vikings come into Sunday's game with a 6-4 record, which would put them in the category of the teams that have a winning record when they play the Bears. If they can avoid allowing the Bears defense to dictate the pace of the game, they have a good chance of beating them. But, when it comes to neutralizing the Chicago's new-look Monsters of the Midway, that is much easier said than done.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.