Bears force turnovers on 4 consecutive possessions vs. Bengals

Bears intercept Burrow three times in second half

CHICAGO – Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had one of his worst NFL halves in the second half Sunday. The second-year quarterback, and 2020 No. 1 overall draft pick, hadn’t thrown an interception in 199 pass attempts, dating back to last season.

Then he threw three interceptions on three consecutive pass attempts.

A barrage of turnovers helped the Bears secure a 20-17 victory. Linebacker Roquan Smith, cornerback Jaylon Johnson and defensive lineman Angelo Blackson all came down with interceptions.

The turnover party even started one possession earlier when safety Eddie Jackson forced a fumble, which was recovered by fellow safety Tashaun Gipson.

“As a defensive player, you live for moments like that,” Gipson said. “Those types of game don’t come often, but man, when they do, those are the fun types of games.”

Smith had the first interception with 11:07 to go in the game, which he returned 53 yards for a touchdown. It was the first touchdown of Smith’s NFL career. He said after the game that it was his first touchdown since high school.

Smith gave the ball to a fan in the stands, not realizing it was a personal milestone.

“I’ll just keep the jersey and I’ll keep the memory,” Smith said. “I’m sure the guy that got the ball, he’ll enjoy [it]. So if I can make his day, I’m fine with that.”

Next came Johnson, who jumped a route out near the sideline for the first interception of his career. Johnson, who started last season as a rookie, didn’t have an interception in 2020.

“Burrow stared him down pretty much the whole time,” Johnson said. “Just trusting my instincts, trusting my training, my ability, that was it pretty much. Just my God-given ability to read plays and break on it and finish.”

Blackson’s interception was also his first career pick. Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree pressured Burrow on the play and deflected a pass. The ball fell right to Blackson.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Blackson signed with the Bears as a free agent over the offseason. He doesn’t play every snap, but he made the most of his big chance.

“Any time a big guy gets the football, it’s a pleasure to see,” Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said. “He definitely let us feel it. We have a [drill] on Fridays where we go through a pass scenario for the defensive line, and it’s always fun to get those guys out there and see what type of hands they have. He looked good with the ball.”

Big picture, the performance was exactly what the Bears defense needed one week after the Los Angeles Rams gouged them for big play after big play.

“They took it personal,” head coach Matt Nagy said. “They were a little pissed off about how it went last week. They were not happy about it and when you are a good football player and you get pissed off, you usually come back and play pretty well. That’s what they did.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.