Shutting Down Brady, No Easy Task For Bears
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(WSCR) – Tom Brady is putting together a MVP-caliber season. And despite the expected weather conditions for Sunday’s game, stopping the Patriots’ quarterback will be no easy task for the Bears’ defense.
The Bears’ defense has had success against elite quarterbacks this season. They held Aaron Rogers and the Packers to 17 points, Eli Manning and the Giants to 17 points and slowed down Michael Vick.
But none of these quarterbacks are on the same level as Brady.
“Have you seen ‘Top Gun?’” Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. “Remember Ice Man? He just doesn’t make mistakes. He’s patient. He waits for you. As soon as you slip up a little bit, bam, he’s got you.”
Two weeks ago, the Bears ended Eagles quarterback Michael Vick’s streak of passes without an interception at 238 in a 31-26 Chicago victory. This Sunday, they will face the Patriots and Brady, who has gone 228 straight passes without a pick.
The Bears suspect breaking this streak will be much more difficult.
The Patriots rarely commit turnovers -they lead the league in the fewest with only nine. Briggs attributed it largely to the discipline of Brady, who hasn’t thrown an interception since an Oct. 17 overtime win against Baltimore.
“To combat Tom Brady and the Patriots, we have to be detailed. We have to play fast, we have to play physical,” Briggs said. “We know that he’s going to take what the defense is giving. He’s going to take what he sees, so we have to be ready when that ball does come out to punish ball carriers, be opportunistic when the ball’s in the air.”
The Bears are tied for fourth in the NFL in forcing turnovers with 26, although they failed to get Detroit to give the ball back last week.
“It’s always on our minds and hopefully we’ll get them,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said Thursday. “We may not, but the tipped balls, the overthrows, we’ve got to get them. If the ball’s on the ground, we’ve got to get it.”
To slow a Patriots offense that has averaged 40 points over the past four games, Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli singled out discipline in pass coverage and a strong pass rush from the front four.
“It’s critical, that’s a big part of our system,” he said. “That’s what zone defense is about: having the chance to break on the ball and gang tackling. That’s what our system is about.”
Although Brady is certainly less mobile than Vick and possibly than any of the last three quarterbacks the Bears have faced, he could pose a running threat if the front four can get to him.
The Bears remember this well. In 2006, Urlacher had Brady in the open field for an easy tackle to end a possible touchdown drive. Instead, Brady somehow eluded him and the Patriots went on to score a touchdown and win 17-13.
“I’m pretty sure Brian slipped on that, and I’m pretty sure he won’t be slipping this week,” Briggs said.
Brady isn’t only accurate, but is coming off consecutive games of four touchdown passes. The Bears haven’t been pitted against a passer of that caliber since before their current run of five straight wins that have put them atop the NFC North.
Along the way they beat third-string quarterbacks Tyler Thigpen of Miami and Drew Stanton of Detroit, as well as Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick and a struggling Brett Favre with Minnesota.
“Turnovers have been key early on in the season especially at critical situations at the end of games, Dallas and Green Bay, to help us win games,” Briggs said. “So in a game like this, being able to get the ball out, being opportunistic, I guess just looking for that ball or trying to get it out is going to help us win this week.”
The Bears defense could be short-handed. Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa missed the last game due to right knee soreness and had arthroscopic surgery. He missed Thursday’s practice, as did, defensive tackle Marcus Harrison (illness).
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