Bears' defense key to second-half surge - Sports Illustrated

Bears' defense key to second-half surge

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Even Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is sitting up and taking notice of what's going on with his team's defense.

The Bears' defense has allowed opponents into the end zone only once a game in four of their last five outings, including Thursday night's 17-13 victory in the rain at Lambeau Field over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

''It's amazing,'' Cutler said. ''There are a lot of new faces over there, and there's not a lot of guys from last year. ''And for them to jell that quickly, learn a new system, it speaks a lot of our coaches on how good of a job they're doing. It speaks a lot about the players and what kind of character and what kind of players we have on that side.''

The defense gave up a first-quarter screen pass to Eddie Lacy for a touchdown, but wouldn't allow Green Bay in on four downs from the 8-yard line on the game's final drive to secure the win.

Cornerback Tracy Porter broke up a third-and-goal pass to James Jones in the end zone, and Rodgers finished the game with four straight incompletions.

''We're just continuously getting better, playing with each other, getting that chemistry,'' Porter said. ''I've said it time and time again, this defense is doing great things, this team is doing great things.

''We're moving in the right direction.''

Porter is the former New Orleans cornerback who in a Super Bowl intercepted Peyton Manning with Indianapolis driving in the fourth quarter and returned it 74 yards for the clinching touchdown.

Much like many Bears defenders, Porter has bounced between teams, playing for Bears coach John Fox in Denver, for Oakland and Washington before landing in Chicago's lineup in Week 3.

Porter made a fourth-quarter interception of Rodgers, and reserve safety Chris Prosinski caused a first-quarter fumble that led to a score. Those two and nickel cornerback Bryce Callahan did not play against the Packers in a season-opening 31-23 loss at Chicago, but looked polished while holding Rodgers to his worst passer rating as a starter at Lambeau Field (62.4).

''The front seven did a good job of adding pressure and closing in the pocket so he couldn't run around like he normally does. And us on the back end creating those tight windows and not letting those wide receivers scramble and get open like they usually did,'' Porter said, explaining the success. ''Once you have those things working together, rush and coverage, you're usually going to be successful.''

The victory over Green Bay kept the Packers from evening the all-time series at 93 each and snapped a four-game Bears losing streak to Green Bay.

It also provided the Bears with a sense of revenge because they felt the Packers scheduled them as a soft ''homecoming'' type opponent for the retirement of Brett Favre's jersey number.

''This one is worth a lot more,'' offensive lineman Kyle Long said. ''We just beat the Packers at their homecoming. ''It feels really good.''

The Bears (5-6) will try to reach .500 after failing on three other attempts at it this season.

''Every game is big, but we're in the playoff hunt and this game was huge,'' Porter said.


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