Tillman earns prestigious NFL honors
January 10th, 2013
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has been racking up postseason honors at the same rapid rate he generated takeaways during a record-breaking 2012 campaign.
Tillman has been named first-team All-NFL by Pro Football Weekly, Sports Illustrated's Peter King and Pro Football Focus while also being selected to USA Football’s All-Fundamentals Team.
Voted to his second straight Pro Bowl in 2012, Tillman tied for the NFL lead with three interception return touchdowns and topped the league with 10 forced fumbles, tied for the most since the NFL started tracking the statistic in 1991. In the process, he increased his career total to 39 forced fumbles, the most by any player since he entered the league in 2003.
Tillman helped the Bears lead the NFL with 44 takeaways this season.
In their capsules of first-team selections, Pro Football Weekly wrote: “A legitimate Defensive MVP candidate, Tillman spearheaded one of the league’s most opportunistic defenses, taking his well-documented ability to punch the ball out of offensive players’ hands to a new level.”
Tillman set all-time Bears records in 2012 for defensive touchdowns with nine and interceptions by a cornerback with 33, the third most overall in franchise history behind safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37).
One of Tillman’s greatest achievements during the season was limiting Lions superstar receiver Calvin Johnson to three receptions for 34 yards Oct. 22 in Chicago and five catches for 72 yards Dec. 30 in Detroit, helping the Bears sweep the season series.
In Johnson’s other 14 games in 2012, he averaged eight catches and 133 yards, ultimately setting an NFL single-season record with 1,964 yards.
In selecting Tillman to their All-NFL squad, Pro Football Focus wrote: “The man who just kept forcing fumbles probably doesn’t get his due for how talented a cover corner he is. If you don’t believe us, look at how little damage Calvin Johnson did when the Bear was tracking him. Tillman rarely lets anything or anyone go over the top of him.”
Tillman was also rewarded for his performance in 2012 with his inclusion on USA Football’s All-Fundamentals Team, which honors 26 NFL players who exhibit exemplary techniques for youth players to emulate, particularly when blocking and tackling.
In recognizing Tillman, USA Football wrote that he “possesses strong fundamentals in both pass coverage and tackling. His ability to break on the ball makes it difficult for quarterbacks to find windows in which to throw to receivers. He also has the ability to secure tackles while simultaneously stripping the football from the ball-carrier.”
Each player chosen for the All-Fundamentals Team will receive a $1,500 equipment grant from USA Football to donate to the youth or high school football program of his choice. USA Football, the sport’s national governing body in the United States, is the official youth football development partner of the Bears, the NFL and each of the league’s other 31 teams.
A fan vote will determine All-Fundamentals Team captains at www.facebook.com/usafootball. Fans may vote for one captain on offense, defense and special teams through Jan. 21. USA Football will award each of the three captains a $3,000 equipment grant to donate and an All-Fundamentals Team helmet trophy.
Tillman was one of five Bears voted to the Pro Bowl this season, all as starters. The others were cornerback Tim Jennings, receiver Brandon Marshall, defensive tackle Henry Melton and defensive end Julius Peppers.
Tillman and Jennings are the first cornerbacks from the same team voted to start in the Pro Bowl since Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield of the Cleveland Browns in 1988. The annual all-star game will be played Jan. 27 in Hawaii.