Defense Ready to Prove Worth

So far, the Bears have proven to themselves, the Redskins and the Lions that they have the makings of a dominant defense. Sunday's noon game at Soldier Field against the explosive Bengals, who have scored 64 points this season, will be a greater challenge than the Bears' defense has faced this season. Still, they sound anxious for the opportunity.

"We let up three field goals (against the Redskins), and we felt like that was still too much for us," defensive tackle Tommie Harris said. "What we expect from our defense is greatness. That's what we're going to do."

Defensive players were critical of themselves after allowing 9 points in the two-point loss to the Redskins, and their criticism could have come off as insincere if they didn't play so well in permitting the Lions only 6. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera is impressed with the attitude his players have shown so far.

"Myself, Lovie and the position coaches all talked with several players," Rivera said, "and a lot of them really took the (Redskins) loss on their shoulders, and that was refreshing. They didn't want to blame anybody; they didn't look to anybody. They blamed themselves.

"One of the things we talked about is going out on the football field and trusting your teammates. Trusting your guy was going to be in his gap, that you were going to be in your gap, and that you were going to be in your coverage responsibility. They really did that (against the Lions)."

A group effort like Sunday's has defenders starting to believe that they are surrounded by other talented players, which makes it easier for them to focus on their own assignments without worrying about covering for a teammate. Harris was disappointed in his own performance in Week One, but felt he did his job vs. Detroit because he only had to worry about himself.

"I did my part," Harris said. "I didn't try to do everybody else's job. The sacks and all that stuff, that's going to come, but right now I'm just trying to do my part in this defense. We just have to stay focused and keep everybody healthy."

Linebacker Lance Briggs tied for the team lead with seven tackles and had one of the Bears' five interceptions. He snuffed out the last chance the Lions had of making the game competitive on fourth-and-1 late in the third quarter, when he penetrated the backfield and tackled Joey Harrington and running back Kevin Jones before a handoff could be completed.

"We got back to fundamentals and doing the things we're supposed to do," Briggs said, "like being accountable and trusting each other when we're on the field.

"We've done some talking, and to have a showing like (this), it shows everyone what we can do."

SERIES HISTORY: 8th meeting. Bengals lead Bears 4-3. In the last meeting, Oct. 21, 2001, the Bears' last winning season, they shut out the Bengals 24-0. The Bears outrushed the Bengals 203-35.

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