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Bears get defensive in 30-6 win over lowly Browns
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff

Cornerback Charles Tillman is all smiles after his fourth-quarter interception and touchdown return completed the scoring. It was the Bears' first defensive score this season.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte celebrates with teammate Rashied Davis after scoring a touchdown in the second half.

 

Associated Press

Cleveland Browns' Josh Cribbs is upended by Garrett Wolfe on a kickoff return in the third quarter.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 11/1/2009 3:40 PM | Updated: 11/1/2009 8:56 PM

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Sunday's 5-takeaway feast in the 30-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field was just what the Bears' defense needed after it swallowed a super-sized serving of humble pie last week.

The 5 takeaways were 1 more than the Bears had in their previous three games, and they boosted the winners to 4-3 on the season while the Browns suffered their seventh loss in eight games.

As well as the Bears' defense played, for the offense, it was as unsatisfying a 24-point victory as anyone could remember.

Quarterback Jay Cutler was physically abused by the Browns' defense - arguably the NFL's worst unit - getting sacked four times and taking wicked hits several other times.

The offense, which was booed on several occasions, had to settle for field goals on its first three red-zone opportunities.

Fortunately for them, the defense kept giving them the ball back.

"We were able to get some points when the defense got the takeaways," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Of course we'd like to be able to get touchdowns. And Jay got hit a few more times than we would like for him to today."

Safety Danieal Manning and cornerback Charles Tillman each registered an interception and a fumble recovery, and Adewale Ogunleye also recovered a fumble. Nick Roach, switched back to strong-side linebacker from the middle, forced 2 of the Browns' 3 fumbles.

"This week we came out and we got turnovers," said Alex Brown, who had the lone sack of the day for the Bears. "That's the difference."

The defense benefited from playing against Derek Anderson, the NFL's lowest-rated quarterback, who managed just 6 completions on 17 attempts for 76 yards and a passer rating of 10.5.

Manning provided the Bears' offense with an easy scoring opportunity when he made a spectacular diving interception and returned it 35 yards to the Browns' 13-yard line. But the offense picked up just 2 yards on three plays before Robbie Gould's 29-yard field goal made it 6-0 late in the first quarter.

In addition to the takeaways, the Bears' defense allowed a season-low 191 total yards, quite an improvement from a week earlier when it permitted the Cincinnati Bengals 448 yards, including 215 on the ground.

"It's a steppingstone," defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. "We don't (want to) get too high or too low. We stay away from the papers because if you do that you won't want to play the next week. Today the credit goes out to the DBs."

Tillman's 21-yard return for a touchdown after his second interception of the season was the first defensive score by the Bears this season, and it accounted for the final points.

After settling for Gould field goals on their first three red-zone chances, the Bears got touchdown runs of 1 and 10 yards by Matt Forte, who finished with 90 yards on 26 carries, his second most productive game of the season.

Still, it wasn't enough to satisfy offensive coordinator Ron Turner.

"We have to execute and play better," said Turner, who was asked in what areas the offense needs to improve.

"All," he said. "Coaching, everything, all."

Asked if he observed any progress anywhere on offense, Turner paused for several seconds. "I guess that answers it," he said. "I guess we ran for a few yards."

But the Bears could take some satisfaction from a defense that craves turnovers yet had failed to get more than 2 in any game this season and was minus-5 in takeaways entering the game.

The turnovers came just in time for a unit that has earned a reputation for creating them in droves but repeatedly has come up short in that department this season. Manning said the lack of takeaways may have been starting to bug the defense.

"I'm not going to speak for anybody else but think they probably were feeling that way," he said. "The language of the locker room and the vibe you were getting, guys were a little down because the turnovers weren't coming.

"Then all of a sudden, 'Boom,' and they come in bunches."

Considering the Browns came in ranked 31st in total offense, Manning wasn't ready to declare the Bears' defense back in top form.

"We've still got a lot of improvement," he said. "This is just one game that we played this way. You've got to continue to play this way, and then we'll say we're back."