Bears’ defense straightens out after rough start to beat Jaguars 41-17

Roquan Smith was the star with two interceptions, and the Bears held the Jaguars to eight yards of total offense in the third quarter.

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One of two interceptions by Bears linebacker Roquan Smith on Sunday.

AP Photos

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It looked like the start of another listless day for the Bears’ defense when Jaguars running back Dare Ogunbowale, a fringe player who had 15 career carries in four seasons, plowed through them on the opening possession.

But it got better.

The Bears locked in after halftime and cut the Jaguars off at nearly every turn for a runaway 41-17 victory. The Jaguars had only eight total yards in the third quarter and did not score in the second half until a meaningless touchdown with under five minutes left.

“That was obviously the turning point in the game,” coach Matt Nagy said.

That’s significant. The third quarter has often been a turning point for the Bears this season, but for all the wrong reasons. They were the worst third-quarter team in the league through the first 14 games, being outscored 93-24.

Linebacker Roquan Smith essentially ended the game when he intercepted Jaguars quarterback Mike Glennon in the third quarter to put the Bears at the Jacksonville 25-yard line. The offense followed with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Trubisky to Jimmy Graham to go up 34-10.

It was Smith’s second pick of the game. The first was just as important, coming right off Trubisky’s interception in the end zone just before halftime. Smith returned it to the Jaguars’ 32-yard line with eight seconds left to set up a late field goal and offset Trubisky’s mistake.

“That’s what it’s all about — just having each other’s back,” Smith said. “He made a throw that I’m sure he would like to have back, and I was just at the right place at the right time.”

Coming into the game, Smith was ranked fifth in the NFL in tackles (128) and fourth in tackles for loss (17). With two interceptions, he’s now tied with safety Tashaun Gipson for the team lead.

As for the defense, Ogunbowale ripped them for 48 yards on seven carries on that opening possession but managed just 23 yards on seven carries the rest of the day. They shut down Glennon, too, holding him to a 75.4 passer rating.

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