Tillman Intercepts Two Passes in Bears' Week 1 Win|
September 10th, 2013
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman started the 2013 season with a bang Sunday, recording two interceptions in a 24-21 comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field.
It was the second time in Tillman’s 11-year NFL career that he picked off two passes in a game and the first time both came in the same half.
He now has 35 interceptions, third most in Bears history behind safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37).
“I hope that not just the people watching the game on television but the people in this organization know what kind of player No. 33 is,” said linebacker Lance Briggs, Tillman’s teammate since they both were selected by the Bears in the 2003 NFL Draft.
On the Bengals’ second play from scrimmage, Tillman stepped in front of Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green and intercepted Andy Dalton’s slant pass at the Bengals’ 36-yard line. The Bears converted the turnover into a 7-0 lead on Jay Cutler’s 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett.
Midway through the second quarter, Tillman dove to pick off another Dalton pass that deflected off Green’s outstretched hands. The Pro Bowl cornerback showed off his running skills, breaking three tackles by linemen Clint Boling, Anthony Collins and Andre Smith on a nifty 41-yard return.
“He’s good,” said Green, who’s in his third NFL season. “[He’s] a great corner, man. [He’s] very crafty, probably one of the best in the game. [He’s] one of the best I’ve went up against.”
Tillman generated two of the Bears’ three takeaways against the Bengals while matching up most of the day against Green, who caught a game-high nine passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. The fourth pick in the 2011 draft has been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons.
“He battled an elite receiver,” Briggs said. “With some of those big plays, you can’t get in better position than what he’s in. [Green] made some fantastic catches. That’s why the guy goes to the Pro Bowl every year. But to get the ball out and create turnovers and get interceptions and stuff like that, that’s what we're all about and Peanut is the pinnacle of it.”
The only other time Tillman had recorded two interceptions in the same game was in a 2006 loss to the Patriots in New England.
“Peanut is a pro,” said Bears cornerback Tim Jennings. “He knew he had a task coming into this game. A.J. Green is a great player, an explosive player, and anytime when we know that Peanut is going to match up against a great player, we feel like he is going to make some plays. That’s just the type of guy he is. He’s a competitor. He’s smart and a hard worker. You definitely have to take your hat off to him for doing a great job.”
Making plays on the ball, Tillman picked up Sunday where he left off last season. In 2012, the Louisiana Lafayette product helped the Bears lead the NFL with 44 takeaways by topping the league with a career-high 10 forced fumbles and recording three interceptions.
The 10 forced fumbles tied for the most since the NFL started tracking the statistic in 1991 and increased Tillman’s career total to 39, the most by any player since he entered the league in 2003. Tillman also returned all three of his interceptions for touchdowns, helping the Bears score nine defensive TDs, tied for the second most in NFL history.
“Charles is great,” said Bears linebacker James Anderson. “To have a guy like that who’s probably the best in the league at creating turnovers, you know sooner or later that he’s going to make a big play. You just keep playing ball and you know sooner or later he’s going to do something.”