X-and-O Show: Week 7 Defense

The Chicago Bears pulled out a 24-18 win over the Tampa Buccaneers on Sunday. We go to the film room and breakdown two defensive plays from this weekend's victory.

With the Chicago Bears being on bye this week, we're going to spend extra time in the film room breaking down extensively this week's 24-18 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London and more. We start off with a double dose of X-and-O, looking at two defensive snaps from Sunday's victory.

Conte's first pick

First quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 12-yard line. The Buccaneers line up a three-receiver set with QB Josh Freeman under center. RB Kregg Lumpkin is alone in the backfield. WR Mike Williams is wide left and WR Dezmon Briscoe is wide right. WR Preston Parker is in the right slot with TE Kellen Winslow on the right edge. The Bears counter with a nickel package. Linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are a few yards deep of the line. S Chris Harris is all the way up on the line of scrimmage, across from Winslow. The cornerbacks are playing directly across from the receivers, indicating man coverage.

S Chris Conte
Kyle Terada/US Presswire

At the snap, Freeman drops back to pass. Harris picks up Winslow running an out pattern while Briggs mirrors Lumpkin swinging to the left flat. The defensive linemen are picked up well and can't get any pressure. Freeman sets and fires at Williams, who is running a skinny post toward the middle of the field. CB Charles Tillman allows Williams to get inside and the ball hits the receiver in the chest at the goal line. S Chris Conte hits Williams just as the ball reaches him, jarring it loose. The ball squirts into Conte's hands, who corrals it before he hits the ground. The play goes for an interception.

This was the first play after Bears QB Jay Cutler threw his first interception. It was arguably the biggest play of the game. Yes, the Buccaneers picked up a safety the following play, but giving up two points is better than giving up seven. Tillman kept to Williams' outside shoulder throughout the route, which gave Freeman an opening to the inside. Had Conte not broken on the ball when he did, Tampa Bay would have scored a touchdown. Instead, he reacts quickly to the throw, plants a hit on the receiver and has the awareness to come down with the loose ball. It was an outstanding play for the rookie, who is slowly establishing himself at the free safety position.

Another goal line turnover

Fourth quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 14-yard line. The Buccaneers line up in a two-tight end, two-receiver set. Freeman is under center with Lumpkin alone in the backfield. Winslow is positioned on the left edge of the line, with TE Luke Stocker on the right edge. A receiver is wide to either side. The Bears counter with a 4-3. Eight men are in the box. S Chris Harris is lined up as a fourth linebacker on the offense's right side. SLB Nick Roach is showing blitz off the left edge, while Briggs is showing blitz up the middle.

LB Brian Urlacher
Kirby Lee/US Presswire

At the snap, Freeman drops back to pass. No one blitzes. Winslow releases down field just outside of the left hash. He is covered by Roach, who is sitting on the outside shoulder of the receiver. Urlacher floats underneath into the passing lane. At the same time, DT Stephen Paea uses a bull rush on C Ted Larson. He drives the offensive lineman straight backward until he's in Freeman's face. Freeman has to throw over the head of Larson. He tosses a pass toward Winslow downfield, yet Urlacher undercuts the ball and brings in the interception. He returns it 10 yards to the Bears' 17-yard line.

This was the second turnover the Bears forced in their own red zone. If Tampa Bay had been able to convert either of those opportunities into touchdowns, the Bears very likely would have lost this game. Urlacher does a great job of reading Freeman's eyes and finding the passing lane. Yet the defender who made this play happen was Paea, who drove Larsen right into Freeman's sight line. Because the big center is right in his face, the Bucs QB never sees Urlacher. With the pocket collapsing in front of him, Freeman has to get rid of the ball early, which resulted in the interception. Paea didn't show up on the stat sheet like he did in his debut last week but he did a number of good things throughout the game to help the defense shut down Tampa Bay's offense. He's been the most-impressive defensive tackle the past two weeks.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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