With 2:36 left in the fourth quarter and the Bears up 23-17 in Lambeau Field on Sunday Night Football, Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller dropped the game-sealing interception.
Two plays later, quarterback Aaron Rodgers found wide receiver Randall Cobb for the game-winning touchdown. On that play, Bears safety Eddie Jackson broke on the deep-in route by Cobb and was a hand-length away from breaking up the pass, but the veteran receiver stopped his route, caught the ball and ran for a 75-yard score.
The Packers won 24-23, and the Bears, along with their fans, were left devastated.
But ever since that loss, that missed opportunity by both Fuller and Jackson, the Bears’ secondary has been nothing short of spectacular.
Through 12 weeks, the Bears lead the league in interceptions with 20, and the secondary has accounted for 16 of them, which is just one less than the entire Dolphins’ team, who have the second-most interceptions with 17.
Fuller leads the group with five interceptions and is only trailing the Falcons’ Damontae Kazee, who has six. From 2014 – 2017, Fuller only had seven interceptions. Jackson has the second-most interceptions on the Bears with four, and he is continuing to build off a good rookie season, where he had two interceptions (one pick-6) and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
And seven of those 16 interceptions for the Bears’ defensive backs have come in the fourth quarter. In the Bears’ Thanksgiving victory over the Lions, Jackson scored for the fifth time in his young career with a pick-6 on Matthew Stafford with about 6:00 remaining in the game. Not too long after that, Fuller picked off Stafford in the end zone with 1:08 on the clock.
The same two players that failed to close the Week 1 matchup with the Packers demonstrated their resiliency and ability to finish against the Lions.
Fuller and Jackson are not the only defensive backs who have been playing well this season. Prince Amukamara, who last had an interception in 2015, now has two interceptions this season. Arguably the best play of his eight-year career was his pick-6 on Russell Wilson in the fourth quarter, which gave the Bears a 24-17 victory in Week 2.
Adrian Amos is also having a career year. With his two interceptions this season, he has more than he did through his first three years in the league. Amos’ six passes defended are also a career high.
And this secondary wouldn’t be complete without nickelback Bryce Callahan. Whether he is covering some of the best slot receivers in the league or coming off the edge and disrupting opposing offenses on the blitz, he is someone defensive coordinator Vic Fangio can always rely on.
What has helped Callahan this season is his health. He has yet to miss a game, and according to Pro Football Reference, Callahan has played on 84.80 percent of the defensive snaps.
Something that has also helped the Bears’ secondary is the pass rush, which has registered 34 sacks and made quarterbacks uncomfortable all season.
Regardless of who an opposing team decides to throw against, the Bears have the potential to make quarterbacks pay at each position. So much so that even Sherrick McManis, a primary special teams contributor, has an interception this season.
The secondary was unable to finish the job in Week 1, but the unit has come a long way since then and have proved when the opportunity presents itself, the playmakers can and will capitalize.