Briggs' big effort earns Smith's praise

  • Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs celebrates after the Bears' 17-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday.

    Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs celebrates after the Bears' 17-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday. Associated Press

Published9/29/2009 12:04 AM

Four-time Pro Bowler Lance Briggs tied with cornerback Zack Bowman for the team lead in tackles Sunday with 8, including 6 solos, and Briggs also had an interception, a sack and a tackle for loss. He leads the Bears with 23 tackles and is the only player with an interception and a sack.

"Lance Briggs has been outstanding," Lovie Smith said. "He's played like a Pro Bowler every time he's touched the field. (Sunday) he was going to will the team ... will the defense to step it up."


The defense got both its takeaways in the second half as the Bears outscored the Seahawks 18-6.

Qwest for greatness: Jay Cutler's passer rating of 126.4 was the highest by a visiting quarterback in the eight-year history of Qwest Field.

Cutler completed 21 of 27 passes for 247 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

"Jay's spreading the ball around," Lovie Smith said. "Devin Hester (5 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD) took a big step in his growth (as) our No. 1 receiver. Johnny Knox (7-yard TD) made another big play. Earl Bennett (4 catches, 80 yards), and our receivers all played well. (Tight end) Greg Olsen (5 catches, 44 yards) did some good things, too. In order for all that to happen, the offensive line has to be doing some good things, and they are doing that."

Running game "improving": Lack of production from the running game continues to be a hot topic, but Bears coach Lovie Smith managed to find a glimmer of hope after the ground attack picked up just 85 yards on 28 carries for a 3.0-yard average.

"We talk a lot about it; it's improving," Smith said. "We got some production from it. We still need to take another step, but we're still committed to it by the number of rushes that we have. I really like the way we kept the balance with run and pass."

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While the Bears ran 28 times and threw 27 passes, they netted 233 yards through the air, almost three times as much yardage as they got on the ground.

Matt Forte rushed for 66 yards on 21 carries, a 3.1-yard average and a long run of 11 yards. And the Seahawks played without their two best linebackers, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill. But even those modest totals represented season bests for Forte in every category but attempts.

Room for improvement: The defense allowed the Seahawks to convert 7 of 17 third-down situations, an unacceptable 41 percent, according to Lovie Smith.

"I'm not pleased with our third-down conversions," Smith said. "We have to do a better job of that. We missed a couple tackles. After watching the video, we had them a couple times where we let them out."

Last year the Bears were No. 5 in the NFL, allowing opponents to convert just 34.9 of their third downs.

Looking for help: With Hunter Hillenmeyer's status questionable this week because of a rib injury, and with Pisa Tinoisamoa's knee sprain not yet completely healed, the Bears will revisit the idea of bringing in another linebacker, possibly former Bucs perennial Pro Bowler Derrick Brooks.

"We'll keep all of our options open," Lovie Smith said. "We'll evaluate the situation, but we are thin at that position."


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