Bears 9-0 when Tillman scores
February 13th, 2013
No one has generated more defensive touchdowns in Bears history than Charles Tillman. But his record is even more impressive when you consider that all nine of his scores have led to victories.
Tillman’s first career touchdown came Oct. 30, 2005 on a 22-yard interception return in overtime, giving the Bears a 19-13 win over the Lions in Detroit. He picked off Jeff Garcia’s ill-advised pass over the middle intended for receiver Mike Williams and cruised into the end zone untouched.
“[Garcia] was kind of off balance,” Tillman said after the game. “He tried to throw across his body and the ball was floating. I just stepped in front of [Williams] and took it. My eyes didn’t get big until I actually caught it and knew I was about to score.”
The Bears’ third straight win after a 1-3 start gave them sole possession of first place in the NFC North. They would eventually extend their win streak to eight games en route to claiming the division title.
Tillman’s second TD came in what he considers the most memorable game of his career. His 40-yard fumble return helped the Bears turn a 23-3 deficit late in the third quarter into a miraculous 24-23 Monday night victory over the Cardinals Oct. 16, 2006 in Arizona.
The only fumble return TD of Tillman’s career enabled the Bears to close the gap to 23-17 with 5:00 left in the fourth quarter. The takeaway was created by Brian Urlacher, who ripped the ball away from Cardinals running back Edgerrin James.
With the victory, the Bears improved to 6-0 en route to a 13-3 finish and the team’s first Super Bowl appearance since the 1985 season. It remains the only game in franchise history the Bears have won when trailing by at least 20 points in the second half.
Tillman’s third touchdown—his second in Detroit—helped the Bears record their most lopsided road win over the Lions in 60 years. It came Oct. 5, 2008 on a 26-yard interception return of a Dan Orvolsky pass that caromed off receiver Roy Williams in a 34-7 victory.
Tillman’s fourth TD—his first at Soldier Field—was one of five takeaways in a 30-6 rout of the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 1, 2009. The veteran cornerback capped the scoring with 3:14 remaining in the game by intercepting a Derek Anderson pass and returning it 21 yards.
The longest interception return TD of Tillman’s career, a 44-yarder, helped lift the Bears to a resounding 37-13 win over the Lions on Nov. 13, 2011 at Soldier Field. Jumping a slant route, Tillman picked off Matthew Stafford’s pass intended for All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson. It was Tillman’s fifth career TD, and his third against Detroit.
Tillman’s sixth TD came in the 2011 season finale in Minnesota when he helped the Bears turn a 10-0 deficit into a 17-13 victory by intercepting a Christian Ponder pass that deflected off running back Toby Gerhart and returning it 22 yards for a score.
With the fifth interception return TD of his career, Tillman broke the Bears record he shared with Mike Brown and Bennie McRae.
Tillman then claimed the franchise mark for defensive touchdowns by bringing back all three of his interceptions for scores in 2012, tied for the most in the NFL.
He sparked a 34-18 Monday night win over the Cowboys in Dallas Oct. 1 by picking off a Tony Romo pass intended for Dez Bryant and returning it 25 yards for a TD.
With blitzing safety Chris Conte about to hit Romo, the Cowboys quarterback threw a pass in the left flat directly to Tillman, who juggled the ball before securing it and racing down the sideline untouched. There was a mix-up between Romo and Bryant, who ran deep on the play.
Six days later, Tillman intercepted a Blaine Gabbert pass and returned it back 36 yards for a TD in a 41-3 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Once the ball is in the air it’s free, right?” Tillman said after the game. “I’m greedy. Greed is good in all professions, so I just try to go get it. Our defense did a great job blocking, all 10 guys getting me in the end zone. The star of our defense is our defense. They got me in the end zone.”
Tillman’s final touchdown of the season—his fifth in a 23-game span—came Dec. 23 in Arizona when he intercepted a Ryan Lindley pass intended for receiver Andre Roberts and returned it 10 yards to help give the Bears a 28-13 victory.