Bear Bits

The Bears ground game was pitiful Sunday, gaining just 44 yards. It's not only their worst performance of the year, but in many ways the rushing attack never got a chance.

Anthony Thomas had just nine carries for 22 yards. It's the second-lowest rushing total of his career as a starter. The third-year back has been Chicago's top offensive weapon throughout 2003. Thomas leads the team with 733 rushing yards on 177 carries and four touchdowns despite missing two games due to a foot injury and the previous contest with pneumonia. Thomas currently ranks 19th in the NFL in yards on the ground, boosted by a four-game stretch (9/29 vs. GB through 11/2 vs. SD) during which he averaged 110.0 yards per game and fell four-yards shy in one game of having four-straight 100-yard outings. The third-year back also ranks tied for 18th with a 4.2-yards per carry avg. and is 21st in carries.

RUSHING TO DIFFERENCES: Limited to just 44 total rushing yards on 20 carries (2.2 ypc) in the game at Green Bay, Chicago posted its lowest rushing output since managing only 39 yards on 18 carries at San Francisco on Dec. 17, 2000. With Sunday's season-low rushing performance coming one week after the Bears rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries against Arizona (11/30), the Bears fell three spots to 20th in the NFL at 107.8 rushing yards per game, 1,401 total rushing yards and 358 rushing attempts. The Bears are tied for 18th with a 3.9-yards per rushing play avg. and tied for 14th with 11 rushing touchdowns. Chicago recorded a season-high 200 yards vs. Oakland on Oct. 5, the first 200-yard rushing game for the Bears since Dec. 16, 2001 vs. Tampa Bay (207). Including the game against the Raiders, four of Chicago's top five rushing performances of the year have come at Soldier Field where the Bears are averaging 137.2 rushing yards per game. In seven road games in 2003, Chicago is averaging only 82.6 rushing yards per game.

STUFFING THE RUN: Despite allowing over 30 points for the second time this season, the Bears defense kept up its improved play against the run on Sunday as they held Packers RB Ahman Green to 80 yards rushing on 30 carries (2.7 ypc). Held under the century mark for just the fifth time all season, Green's yards per carry average was his second-lowest of the season. In the first meeting between the two teams this season on Sept. 29 at Soldier Field, Green ran for a then-career-high 176 yards on 19 carries (9.3 ypc) and one of two touchdowns went for 60 yards. With Green Bay totaling only 97 rushing yards as a team on Sunday, the Chicago defense kept its opponent under 100 rushing yards for the fifth time in the last seven games while allowing an average of 90.3 yards on the ground per game. During the 2001 season when Chicago set a new club mark for allowing the fewest rushing yards in a 16-game season (1,313), the Bears ranked second in the NFL by holding their opponents to 82.1 rushing yards per game. For the season, Chicago is now ranked 18th in the NFL while permitting an average of 119.7 rushing yards per game.

CHARTING THE DEFENSE: Despite allowing Green Bay QB Brett Favre to top his season average of 196.5 passing yards per game with 210 on Sunday, his second straight game over 200, Chicago's improving pass defense moved up a spot in the NFL rankings to seventh in passing yards allowed (186.9 ypg). Meanwhile, the 307 total yards allowed at Lambeau Field dropped the Bears overall defense to 13th in the NFL with a 306.6 yards per game average allowed.

OFFENSIVE DEFENSE: The 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by strong-side linebacker Lance Briggs in the first quarter at Green Bay stands as the first defensive touchdown by the Bears this season. Overall, Briggs' first career TD is the first defensive score by Chicago since free safety Mike Brown scored on a 62-yard fumble return last year at Buffalo (9/29) and the first for the Bears off an interception since Walt Harris returned a pick 39 yards for a TD at Detroit on Dec. 30, 2001. Briggs' 45-yard INT return is the longest by the Bears this season, barely topping the 43-yard return by R. W. McQuarters on his first pick of the season vs. Oakland (10/5).

YOUNG THIEFS: The first interception of the young career of Lance Briggs gives the Bears two rookie interceptors in the same season for the first time since Brian Urlacher and Mike Brown did so in their rookie season of 2000. Rookie cornerback Charles Tillman is currently tied with his corner partner Jerry Azumah for the team lead with three interceptions on the season. Tillman has gone three games without a pick after getting his three in four games from Oct. 26 to Nov. 16. In 2000, Urlacher had two and Brown one of Chicago's 11 interceptions that year. This year, Tillman and Briggs have four of the 13 INTs by the Bears.

TACKLE BY URLACHER: For the third consecutive week, Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher held at least a share of the team tackle lead for the Bears with a double-digit tackle total. Urlacher led the team at Green Bay with 12 tackles (five solos) while starting strong safety Bobby Gray was second with a career-high 10 (seven solos). Urlacher totaled 25 tackles over the two previous weeks, including a season-high 13 at Denver in Week 12. That total was the most for the three-time Pro Bowler since posting 13 tackles (11 solos) last year vs. Tampa Bay (12/29). With 127 tackles on the season, Urlacher is currently on pace to record the third-highest tackle total of his career after notching a career-high and team-record 214 last season. Urlacher has topped 100 tackles in each of his four seasons in the NFL and currently leads the team in total tackles, solo tackles (90) and tackles for loss (nine). Urlacher has held at least a share of the team tackle lead in eight of 13 games this season and over Chicago's last 39 games has paced the squad on 30 occasions, including 14 of 16 in 2002.

Urlacher has a large margin in the overall team tackle lead with a 56-tackle cushion over runner-up and fellow linebacker, rookie Lance Briggs (71). Ranking third is the leader among the defensive line, Alex Brown, with a career-high 69.

Another rookie, LCB Charles Tillman, ranks fourth with 68 to lead the team's defensive backs just ahead of RCB Jerry Azumah and his 66 total tackle and 47 solos.

EXTRA SPECIAL TEAMS: The installment of R.W. McQuarters into the role of Chicago's featured punt returner in the second week of the season got the team's return units going in the right direction and both the punt and kickoff return units can now be found ranked among the top 10 in the NFL. McQuarters, ranked fourth in the NFL (2nd NFC) at 12.9-yards per punt return, has the Bears ranked fourth in the NFL at 12.4-yards per return.

Meanwhile, Jerry Azumah's resuscitation of Chicago's kickoff return game has been well-documented since he laid down two returns of 30-plus yards in his first day on the job (Oct. 5 vs. Oakland). The League high 31.4-yard average for Azumah has Chicago ranked fourth in the NFL at 24.4-yards per kickoff return. The Bears and Chiefs are the only teams to have run back both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown this season and the only teams with two kickoff return TDs.

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