Defense Earning Respect

Some Bears players said last week that, with a 2-3 record, they didn't feel like a first-place team. But Sunday's waterlogged 10-6 victory over the Ravens kept them at the top of the NFC North and gave them a more regal feeling, especially the defense, which did not allow a touchdown for the second straight week.

It was a statement game for the defense, which is now No. 2 in the NFL in points allowed per game, trailing only the Colts by a fraction of a point. The Bears allowed a season-low 199 total yards, the fifth straight week they've permitted less than 285, in a league where the average is 322.

"Hopefully it'll start to get us a little more attention, a little more respect," defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. "I think the guys have earned it. They played extremely hard, and that's the one thing we've asked from them time in and time out, is just give us your best effort. That's what they continue to do week in and week out. I think they should get some credit, some recognition for how hard they play."

The Bears again got minimal contributions from the offense, but once again the defense made a little bit go a long way. The general tone of the defense is that 10 points is plenty.

Sunday's game showed that this is a defense worthy of being considered with the best in the NFL. With the focus on defense, considering the Ravens also came in as one of the league's top units, the Bears defense was prepared for a showdown.

"We knew what type of game it was going to be going into it," safety Mike Brown said. "We know they have a good defense, and obviously we feel like we have a good defense. We knew both teams were going to try to run the rock, so we just needed to come up big for our team today, and I think we did that."

Head Coach Lovie Smith said the Bears use The Aikman Efficiency Ratings to compare their defense to others around the league.

"It would be hard for anyone to convince those guys that someone is better than them," Smith said. "We started the season we talked about having the best defense in the league and that's what they'll say when you talk to them and that's the type of standard that we've set."

The Bears have some backing to their claim according to the Aikman scale, which measures offensive and defensive performance using a combination of seven key statistics identified by Troy Aikman, and then measured against league norms (and extremes) established over the last 10 years. An offense or defense performing exactly at league norms in all categories will achieve a score of 75.

For a unit to score more than more than 90 during an entire season on either the offensive or defensive scale is considered excellent. Through Week 6 the Bears had a 102.2 rating on defense with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rated second at 94.6. They were the only two defenses to score over 90. The Chicago offense ranked 28th in the total yardage, but at 68.7 it was good enough for 24th on the Aikman Scale. The list comes out every Friday, so it has not taken into account the results from Week 7.

The seven categories measured are:

  • Adjusted Points (20 percent) -- Total Points Scored or Allowed minus Points on Returns and Safeties.

  • Turnovers (20 percent).

  • Red Zone Efficiency (20 percent) -- Measured by Percent of Possible Points (figured by taking the number of Red Zone Chances times 7, then dividing it by the number of Points Actually Scored (defined as TDs times 7 plus FGs times 3).

  • Yards Per Play -- Divided into Yards Per Rush (10 percent of total) and Yards Per Pass Play (10 percent of total). Yards Per Pass Play includes yards on plays involving sacks.

  • First Down Achievement -- Divided into Total First Downs (10 percent of total) and 3rd Down Conversion Percentage (10 percent of total).

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