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updated: 10/23/2012 12:27 AM

Bears' Cover-2 scheme provides plenty of pick chances

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  • The Bears' Brian Urlacher has Lions QB Matthew Stafford in his sights during the first half at Soldier Field on Monday. Stafford was forced to scramble and was sacked by Julius Peppers.

       The Bears' Brian Urlacher has Lions QB Matthew Stafford in his sights during the first half at Soldier Field on Monday. Stafford was forced to scramble and was sacked by Julius Peppers.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Bears free safety Anthony Walters and linebacker Nick Roach combine to tackle wide receiver Stefan Logan of the Lions on Monday night at Soldier Field,

      Bears free safety Anthony Walters and linebacker Nick Roach combine to tackle wide receiver Stefan Logan of the Lions on Monday night at Soldier Field,
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli credits the Cover-2 scheme the Bears prefer as a major factor in their NFL-best 13 interceptions through the first six weeks of the season.

"When you're playing this system, you have a lot of eyes on the ball in zone coverage, so you get breaks and you get guys playing with great speed," Marinelli said.

"That's the one thing. Men are fast, but it's the coaches' responsibility to help them play fast. When you have a lot of eyes on the ball, you're getting a lot of people to break. The chance to knock it out or strip it out or go after the ball becomes greater. At least that's how we feel, so we really coach that aspect of it."

Lance Briggs' forced fumble, which was recovered by Julius Peppers late in the first half at the Bears' 17-yard line, stopped the Lions' best scoring threat of the opening 30 minutes.

The Lions fumbled six times Monday night, with the Bears recovering 3. D.J. Moore also got his second interception of the season.

It's been awhile:

Devin Hester's last kick-return touchdown was more than 11 months ago, which isn't an unusually long drought for most return specialists.

But Hester has 17 combined kick-return TDs, the most in NFL history, so expectations are greater.

"With him, you do (expect more)," said Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub. "That's just the way it is. He's just so dangerous and when he's feeling it, there's no stopping him. We've just got to get him in (the end zone) again."

Hester's last score came on an 82-yard punt return in last year's second game against the Lions on Nov. 13.

Toub believes Hester is close to breaking one, and he isn't worried, and he said Hester isn't either.

"He's an old veteran," Toub said. "He's been down this road before. You just watch the tape. If there was an issue where he was just getting pummeled as soon as he touched the ball, but those things aren't happening. Guys are blocking. "We've been real close."

After a lackluster beginning, Hester was replaced by Earl Bennett and Eric Weems, but Hester did return and proceeded to make an ill-advised fair catch where he had room to operate.

"The plan was to (do that)," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Devin's workload was going to increase a little bit on the offensive side, and we have good returners."

Hester had 3 catches for 38 yards.

Cream of the crop:

Monday night marked the third time in three home games this season that the Bears faced a quarterback who was a No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The Lions' Matthew Stafford was the top pick in 2009.

In the opener, they defeated Andrew Luck (No. 1 this year) and the Colts 41-21. In Week 3 they topped Sam Bradford (top pick in 2010) and the Rams 23-6.

The streak hits four straight Sunday when quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers visit Soldier Field.

On Nov. 19, the Bears travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers and quarterback Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in 2005.

Missing weapon:

The Lions continue to miss running back Jahvid Best who has yet to be cleared for a return from the physically unable to perform list because of multiple concussions he suffered last season.

Best's big-play capabilities were on full display in the Lions' 24-13 victory over the Bears last season. He ran for an 88-yard touchdown and also had a 43-yard scamper. Calvin Johnson also had a 73-yard TD grab from Matthew Stafford.

Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said the big plays were equal parts execution by the Lions and breakdowns by his unit.

"They've got one of the best players in football at receiver in 81 (Johnson), and a great quarterback," Marinelli said. "The back they had made a great move with great speed. He's got special speed and movement."

Without Best the Lions have turned to former Fighting Illini running back Mikel Leshoure. Their second-round pick in 2011 had 196 rushing yards on 54 carries (3.6-yard average) through six weeks.

Leshoure picked up a team-best 63 yards on 12 carries.

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