Chris Conte's best game of the season was Sunday against the Lions at Soldier Field -- and it came when he needed it most.
After missing a tackle that helped make possible a 37-yard run by Reggie Bush, Conte returned an interception 35 yards to give the Bears' offense the ball at the Lions' 9-yard line early in the fourth quarter. On the Lions' next possession, Conte broke up a third-down pass in the end zone intended for Calvin Johnson. A play later, David Akers missed a field goal attempt.
"I needed it," said Conte who, like many of the Bears' defenders, has struggled with missed tackles this season. "It was about time, and hopefully I can build off of that and continue to make some plays. Just knowing that I can make those plays helps out a lot. We have a lot of guys out, and it's time for somebody to step up, so it would be nice for me to step up and start making plays."
Conte should get a chance Sunday against the Ravens' Joe Flacco, who throws the long ball more frequently and more effectively than most NFL quarterbacks. According to Pro Football Focus, there have been only 6 passes completed out of 26 attempts this season in which the ball was in the air for 50 yards or more. Flacco has 2 of the completions, on just 3 attempts, for 137 yards.
But only four quarterbacks have been intercepted more than Flacco, who's been picked off 11 times. The reigning Super Bowl MVP has thrown 7 TD passes and just 3 interceptions in the past four games, but 2 of the picks came in last week's 20-17 overtime victory over the Bengals. Flacco also fumbled in that game and was sacked five times for the second week in a row and the third time in four games.
As the Bears' last line of defense, Conte knows he might be tested, and he hopes last week will help turn his season around.
"Things just haven't gone my way," he said. "But just getting back into practice and focusing on the little things and trying to get myself in better position I think helped out."
The criticism, of a personal nature and of the Bears' permissive defense in general has kept Conte off line.
"I learned to not even look at it, to not even to go on the Internet," Conte said. "I don't even have a computer anymore. So I just don't listen to it or pay attention to it."
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