Bears roll over Jacksonville in laugher
The Chicago Bears survived the Florida heat and a slow start on offense for a 41-3 rout on Sunday over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs each returned interceptions for touchdowns for the second game in a row to spark the Bears (4-1).
The Bears survived what may prove to be their most difficult stretch of the schedule with a share of the NFC North lead, broke a 3-3 tie with a short Robbie Gould field goal with 9:18 left in the third quarter. On the first play after the kickoff, Tillman picked off a deep Gabbert pass intended for Justin Blackmon and took it 36 yards to the end zone.
Quarterback Jay Cutler (23 of 39 for 292 passing yards) threw touchdown passes to Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall on back-to-back possessions, in the fourth quarter.
Briggs picked off a pass intended for Maurice Jones-Drew and also took it 36 yards for a score, only 39 seconds of clock time after Marshall's TD.
Six days earlier, in Dallas, Tillman and Briggs took Tony Romo passes back for scores in a 34-18 Monday night victory. The Bears have a league-leading 16 turnovers and have five defensive touchdowns, all in the last three games.
The Bears also had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same game for the first time since 2006. Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards -- 100 yards in the second half -- and Matt Forte gained 107 yards on 22 carries. Running back Armando Allen, third on the depth chart, rubbed it in with a 46-yard TD run the first play after the 2-minute warning.
The Jaguars (1-4) have lost the first three home games of the season for the first time in franchise history, in front of 67,012 -- many of them Bears fans who gleefully stayed to the final gun while Jaguars fans began streaming for the exits after Marshall's touchdown.
Gabbert finished with 141 yards on 16-of-31 passing. The Bears' defense held Jacksonville's only offensive star, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, to 29 yards on 11 carries through the first three quarters, and 56 yards for the game.
Neither offense was sharp in the first half, reflected in the 3-3 score as Gould and Josh Scobee of the Jaguars traded short field goals.
Gabbert led the Jaguars downfield on a promising drive in the second quarter that reached the Chicago 20. Gabbert completed a 34-yard pass to Cecil Shorts to get the Jags their deepest penetration of the game to that point but he was sacked two plays later by Corey Wootton, forcing a fumble that Julius Peppers recovered.
The Bears picked up the offensive pace on the first possession of the third quarter, as Cutler led them down the field on a 17-play, 76-yard drive that reached the Jaguars' 7. However, back-to-back false start penalties on right tackle Gabe Carimi interrupted the Bears' momentum and they settled for Gould's 31-yard field goal to break the tie.
After the kickoff, Tillman made his interception and return. Since entering the league in 2003, Tillman has six interception returns for scores, fourth in the league during that span.
Notes: The game-time temperature at Jacksonville's EverBank Field was 89 degrees, on a day when fall had arrived at the site of every other NFL game played during the day in an outdoor stadium. The next highest temperature was 27 degrees cooler in San Francisco, with the temperature of seven other games that began at either 1 p.m., 4 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. (EDT) ranging from 48 to 58 degrees. ... Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher passed Mike Singletary for third on the all-time career starts list in franchise history. Sunday was Urlacher's 173rd start and he's now 10 games behind No. 2 Olin Kreutz and 11 behind all-time leader Walter Payton. If Urlacher starts the remaining games this season he will tie Payton at Detroit Dec. 30 and could break the record in the opening game of the 2013 season. ... The Jaguars continue to be plagued by slow starts and were held without a touchdown in the first quarter for the fifth time in five games. The Jaguars have managed only two Scobee field goals in the first 15 minutes this season. ... Cutler's fourth-quarter TD pass to Jeffrey broke a tie with Billy Wade for second on the all-time franchise list with 69. Cutler has to nearly double that total to catch the top Bears quarterback of all time, Sid Luckman with 137. ... Scobee's 31-yard field goal in the second quarter tied him with Mike Hollis for the most in franchise history with 175.