LAKE FOREST — Right about at halftime of the Bears-Jets game in Soldier Field, something clicked in the Chicago secondary that has brought about tighter coverage. Though the Bears contend there was no rousing halftime speech to facilitate a change, they don’t deny that they have played shutdown defense when it comes to the passing game since.
LAKE FOREST — Right about at halftime of the Bears-Jets game in Soldier Field, something clicked in the Chicago secondary that has brought about tighter coverage.
Though the Bears contend there was no rousing halftime speech to facilitate a change, they don’t deny that they have played shutdown defense when it comes to the passing game since.
“Nothing was really said. We played pretty much tight defense all year; we’ve just had some moments when we weren’t doing it the way we were supposed to,” safety Chris Harris said. “It was just something that happened. We started to play a little better after that.”
The Bears were torched Dec. 12 by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, surrendering 369 yards while allowing him to complete 27 of 40 in near-blizzard conditions. The defense held rookie Joe Webb at bay in a 40-14 win over the Vikings the next week, but then Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was 13-for-15 for 156 yards in the first half of the Dec. 26 game at Soldier Field.
“In that first half, it was just a matter of (Sanchez) finding open holes and making the throws. He was able to set up, check it out and do his thing. Guys were open for him,” Harris said. “Not after that, though.”
That was where it ended. Sanchez was 9 for 22 for 113 yards in the second half, and the Bears rallied from a 21-10 deficit to win 38-34. Chicago’s secondary then held Aaron Rodgers to 229 yards and a TD through the air in a 10-3 loss at Green Bay before completing denying Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck, at least until the game was out of hand.
Hasselbeck had just 78 yards passing by the time the Bears had grabbed a 21-0 halftime lead. He did throw three fourth-quarter touchdowns, but the Seahawks were unable to threaten at any point in the second half.
“We just had to execute better on our coverages,” cornerback Charles Tillman said. “We got a little quicker on our breaks, quicker closing on our guys. We did the little things better after that.”
Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli made it sound like the defense just went back to its old way of doing things, and it worked.
“One thing we always do is we’ll come back and tighten our fundamentals up. You have home base, and when something happens and you get off track maybe a little bit, you just kind of come back in and you come back to your basic concepts, your defense, your fundamentals and that brings a guy back home,” Marinelli said. “So now you have a chance to see things clearly, with clarity and you get back on rhythm.”
Now they will have to do it against Rodgers — again.
“They’re the hot team right now. But we’re still doing pretty good, too. We’re still here,” cornerback Tim Jennings, said. “We’re really going to try and keep this thing going. We don’t want it to stop now.”
Bears reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.