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Charles Tillman has become such a consistent performer that Coach Dick Jauron admitted he was surprised that the cornerback didn't come up with a tough pick on a ball that was over his head.

Second-round pick Charles Tillman moved into the starting lineup after just three games, and he has more than held his own against the NFL's best receivers. But even after Tillman saved Sunday's victory by taking the ball away from Randy Moss in the end zone with 62 seconds left, coach Dick Jauron said the rookie hasn't exceeded his expectations.

"I believe he's going to get better," Jauron said. "He's got to get better to get where he wants to be. But this guy has the physical talent to play, he has the mental ability to play. And on top of all that, he likes it. He likes to play football. He likes to be around the ball, run or pass."

Tillman leads the Bears with four interceptions, 14 pass breakups and is second with 78 tackles.

"You put all those things together, and you've got a chance to have a real talent," Jauron said. "He's got all those things, and I like the way he's handled himself to this point, and he's just got to keep working."

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
DE Alex Brown had two sacks on the Vikings' first possession, giving him 5 1/2 for the season. He is the only Bear with more than two sacks.

RB Anthony Thomas rushed for 79 yards on 19 carries Sunday, giving him 822 yards and a shot at 1,000 despite missing three games with injury and illness. Thomas' average of 4.2 yards per carry is a major improvement over last season's 3.4.

P Brad Maynard, who had his best day of the season Sunday, is still a yard behind his career gross average of 42.1 yards per punt and 1.1 yards behind his career net average of 35.6. In his first six years, Maynard maintained a 4-1 ratio of punts inside the 20-to-touchbacks. This year he has 21 inside the 20 and nine touchbacks.

CB-KR Jerry Azumah was frustrated by the Vikings' high and short kickoffs and averaged just 14.5 yards on two attempts, but he is still averaging an NFL-best 30.3 yards for the season.

PK Paul Edinger hit field goals of 22 and 38 yards, but his miss from 46 yards was his seventh this year, the most he has ever missed in four NFL seasons.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a totally different thought process. (A week ago) Saturday I hadn't played in 12 games and I was excited for the team, but now I have a totally different approach to it. I got excited and studied right before I went to sleep. I went to sleep early and didn't order a pizza late at night." -- Rookie QB Rex Grossman on having a different mindset last week when he knew he was starting Sunday, as opposed to the previous 13 weeks when there was little chance he'd play at all.


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