Unexpected Source of Offense

NASHVILLE _ R.W. McQuarters and Jerry Azumah are considered Bears big-play makers even though they're playing special teams and not offense.

On Sunday, it was McQuarters' turn to produce big special teams plays – one which was wiped out by a penalty and one which resulted in a crucial touchdown in a 19-17 victory over Tennessee.

"When I first started playing ball, I used to be a tailback," said McQuarters.

McQuarters looked like a running back on a season-long 75-yard touchdown return. He came into the game eighth in the NFL in punt return average at 9.4 yards.

The Titans had placed a punt along the sideline near the Bears' bench, but the Bears had a left return set for the play. It had been disrupted by the punt away from McQuarters, but he still fielded the ball.

"Normally you want to try to get back up the field because it messes up (the blocking) scheme," McQuarters said.

Instead, McQuarters decided against conventional wisdom and stuck with the previously called return. He got a block from Todd McMillon as he cut across the field.

"Once I got to the sideline, the only person I saw was the punter and I wasn't going to let the punter get me," McQuarters said.

His return gave the Bears a 14-7 lead.

On their next possession, he took one back even longer, but the 85-yarder was wiped out by Corey Jenkins' illegal block in the back. Replays showed Jenkins making an obvious perfect and legal block, but the replay didn't show a block Jenkins made earlier on the play for the penalty.

After taking two punts 160 total yards and playing cornerback, McQuarters was taking something else.

"I was taking oxygen," McQuarters said.

He was too winded to get overly upset about the penalty flag behind him on the ground, but said he saw it right away when he turned around.

"They hurt to get called back, but I don't have any complaints with my guys up front (blocking)," he said.

The Titans' offense appeared to target McQuarters after that with deep passes because they knew he might be winded.

"I'm as tired as (deleted) right now," McQuarters said after the game. "My legs feel heavy. But that's good."

Special teams coach Dave Toub had said three weeks ago that the return teams seemed on the verge of big things.

"Dave Toub has done a great job with them," coach Lovie Smith said. "They take a lot of pride, all of our special teams, but we feel like we got two special returners in Jerry Azumah and R.W. McQuarters and feel like we can break one at any time.

"In some games, it turns out that way where you need a big play like that. R.W. is in a zone right now where he thinks he can break one at any time and the guys know that and they are just trying to block and give him a chance to do it."


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