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updated: 10/10/2012 11:49 PM

Wootton starting to make more of an impact

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  • Matt Forte is upended by Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis during the first half of the Bears' victory Sunday. Forte was part of a running game that amassed 214 yards.

      Matt Forte is upended by Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis during the first half of the Bears' victory Sunday. Forte was part of a running game that amassed 214 yards.
    Associated Press

 
 

Defensive end Corey Wootton's sack and strip of Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert got buried under the hoopla over the pick-6s by Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs on Sunday, but it was a huge play at the time.

With the game tied at 3-3, and the Jags at the Bears' 20, Wootton ended the scoring threat by forcing a fumble that Julius Peppers recovered.

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"Corey Wootton stepping up, rushing the passer, that was a big play for him taking the ball away," coach Lovie Smith said.

A fourth-quarter shared sack with Henry Melton gives Wootton 3 for the season, second on the team behind Melton's 4. Wootton's effort came just six days after what he and Bears coaches felt was a dismal performance against the Cowboys.

"Corey played very well against the Packers (in Week 2)," Smith said. "But that was a long time ago -- a long time. I forgot how many games ago. We haven't talked a lot about that type of play from him since then."

Wootton had just 1 sack in his first two NFL seasons after being drafted in the fourth round out of Northwestern in 2010. Wrist and knee injuries have stunted his growth in the past.

"I think it may be as simple as Corey just staying out there and being healthy," Smith said. "We've talked a lot about his potential, but it seems like injuries have cut that short a little bit -- him making that next leap. But he's healthy now."

Off the bus:

Coach Lovie Smith continued to stress a commitment to the running game, even while the Bears were averaging just 101 yards on the ground through the first four weeks and averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, 28th in the league.

That commitment paid off against the Jaguars with 214 rushing yards and a 6.5-yard average. Twenty second-half running plays helped keep the Jaguars off the field for all but four plays in the third quarter and helped run out the clock in the fourth quarter, when the Bears ran 14 times, including Armando Allen's 46-yard TD.

"That balance of running the ball and draining the clock, you have to be able to do that," Smith said.

Picking off honors:

Cornerback Charles Tillman was named NFC defensive player of the week after his second straight game with a pick-6 at Jacksonville on Sunday.

Tillman broke a team record with his eighth defensive touchdown. His 7 career interception-return TDs also are a team record. The interception was the 32nd of his career, tied for third most in team history and tied for the most by a Bears cornerback with Donnell Woolford. Tillman trails safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37).

Good bye:

Riding a three-game winning streak, it might be best to continue playing rather than have their bye this week.

"The bye is not coming at the best time," Julius Peppers said. "It is, but it isn't. We want to continue to riding this wave, but it's a good opportunity for us to rest up and get guys healthy."

Wide receivers Earl Bennett (hand) and Alshon Jeffery (hand), fullback Evan Rodriguez (knee) and linebackers Brian Urlacher (knee) and Blake Costanzo (thumb surgery) all will benefit from some down time before the Bears host Detroit in Week 7.

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