In earning consecutive wins for the first time since the start of the 2002 season, the Bears put up some impressive numbers against the Chargers.
FRESH STARTS: Bears wide receiver Justin Gage became the fifth different rookie to start for Chicago this season when he made his first career start as the team's third wideout on the team's opening drive. Gage caught a 24-yard reception along the west sideline on the play, his fifth catch of the season and fourth over 20 yards. The fifth-round draft pick also added a 28-yard reception along the east sideline in the second quarter, his sixth catch of 20 or more yards out of seven so far this season.
BACK ON TRACK: Running back Anthony Thomas had a solid return to the Bears lineup after missing two weeks with a foot injury, rushing for 111 yards on a season-high 31 carries (3.6 ypc.). The 100-yard game was the third for Thomas this season and the eight of his career. Thomas gave Chicago a 10-o lead with a one-yard touchdown in the second quarter and clinched the game with his second one-yard TD of the game with 21 seconds remaining in the game. With his two scoring runs, Thomas recorded his first career two-TD game and now has three TDs this season and 16 for his career.
PICKIN TIME: Bears cornerback Charles Tillman recorded an interception for the second straight game with his second-quarter pick of San Diego's Drew Brees. Tillman's INTs in successive games is the first for the Bears since free safety Mike Brown intercepted passes in three consecutive games in 2001 (vs. SF on 10/28, vs. CLE on 11/4, and vs. GB on 11/11). The occurrence is also the first for a Bears staring cornerback since 2000 when Walt Harris picked off Peyton Manning on Nov. 5 vs. Indianapolis and then Doug Flutie on Nov.12 at Buffalo.
ZOOM-ZOOM: Bears kickoff returner Jerry Azumah improved his NFL-leading kickoff return average to 30.4 with a 39-yard return to open the second half. Azumah has now topped 20 yards on 10 of his 14 returns this year, including five of at least 30 yards.
MISSING PERSONS: For the fifth time in eight games this season, Chicago's opponent failed on a field goal attempt via either a block, deflection, or plain miss when the 46-yard attempt by Steve Christie in the first quarter was deflected by Bears linebacker Joe Odom. The deflection was the first of Odom's career and the second block/deflection by Chicago this season. Defensive end Phillip Daniels recorded his first career FG block on a 47-yard attempt by Oakland's Sebastien Janikowski on Oct. 5.
LATE-DOWN SUCCESS: For the second consecutive game, Chicago posted a third-down percentage of 38 percent by converting five-of-13 such opportunities against the Chargers. The Bears have converted 19-of-45 (42.2%) third down situations over the last three games with Chris Chandler at quarterback. Chicago also maintained its fourth-down success, converting both of its chances to improve to 7-of-8 on fourth down in 2003. The 87.5 fourth-down ratio for the Bears this year currently ranks third in the NFL.
VICTORY TIDBITS: The win marks the third consecutive home victory for Chicago, the team's longest regular season home winning streak since taking four in a row from Dec. 2, 2001vs. Detroit through Sept. 8, 2002 vs. Minnesota (in Champaign)…The Bears also won the time of possession for the sixth consecutive game, holding a season-high advantage of 35:46 to 24:14… Chicago held San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson to his third-lowest rushing total of the season (61 yards; 38 yards at JAX on 10/5 and 34 at KC on 9/7)… The 80 rushing yards that the Bears allowed to the Chargers was the lowest total by any Chicago opponent this season; the Bears have allowed 166 rushing yards over the last two games.
YOUR HONOR: With San Diego winning the pre-game coin toss and choosing to receiver, the Chicago Bears began its seventh consecutive game on defense. For the fourth consecutive contest, the Bears kept their opponent from scoring on the opening drive as the Chargers were forced to punt after gaining 13 yards on five plays.