Stud of the Week: Brian Urlacher

Tommie Harris is a mammoth along the interior. Lance Briggs is underrated and overdue for a hefty pay raise. Mike Brown is dominant with his brains as well as his braun. All that aside, Brian Urlacher once again proved that he is the best defensive player in the Windy City on Sunday in a shutout performance against the New York Jets. Urlacher is the Bear Report Stud of the Week.

Bears head coach Lovie Smith has no idea why linebacker Brian Urlacher keeps making these lists of the NFL's most overrated players, but as far as he's concerned, he hopes it keeps happening.

Urlacher sprained a toe in the final minutes of Week 9's head-scratching loss to the Dolphins, and speculation was running rampant that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year might miss a few weeks. Fortunately for the Bears, an MRI showed no serious damage. Although he was questionable for Week 10 and practiced very little the previous week, Urlacher looked like his old self with eight tackles in a 38-20 victory over the red-hot Giants.

One week later, he was even more dominant in a shutout performance against the upstart Jets in his return to the Meadowlands. The Bears D held Chad Pennington & Company to just 264 total yards of offense. Not one Chicago opponent has surpassed the 300-yard plateau this season, a claim that no other team in the NFL can make.

Urlacher had 11 total tackles on the day and was once again a madman from sideline to sideline. His biggest play came in the second quarter with the Jets marching down the field in a scoreless game. On the 13th play of the drive from the Bears' 6-yard line, Pennington tried to hit Jerricho Cotchery in the end zone on a slant, but Urlacher stepped in front of the pass and made a juggling interception.

The Jets would not threaten that far into Bears territory the rest of the game. Tailback Thomas Jones kept the chains moving on offense, and wide receiver Mark Bradley made the big play with a 57-yard touchdown reception despite quarterback Rex Grossman struggling most of the afternoon. The Bears are now 9-1, in firm control of the NFC, and became the first team since the 1999 Washington Redskins to win two consecutive road games at Giants Stadium.

Sunday's victory was all about the Chicago defense, and needless to say, any conversation on that topic begins and ends with Urlacher. The Bears are tops in the league in total defense (251.8 yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (12.0 points allowed per game). Urlacher is leading the way once again, earning him the Bear Report Stud of the Week.

JC


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