Bears sensing something 'special' about this team

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Bears sensing something 'special' about this team

NASHVILLE Julius Peppers is never given to overstatement or hyperbole. He has been on a Super Bowl team, knows both winning and losing, and rarely assigns excessive significance to a win, or a loss.

For that reason it was noteworthy when the perennial Pro Bowl defensive end allowed himself a look at more than either the game ahead or the one just completed.

We have something special happening here, Peppers said quietly.

A little later, defensive end Israel Idonije was slowly getting dressed. The same overriding thought:

This is special, Idonije said. Its special.

Special extended beyond Charles Tillmans four forced fumbles; Brian Urlachers 46-yard touchdown return of an interception; Sherrick McManis block of a punt and Corey Woottons return of that for a touchdown; Jay Cutlers three touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall; and beyond Matt Forte and the three running backs combining for more than 200 yards from scrimmage.

The Bears 51-20 demolishing of the Tennessee Titans (3-6) was their sixth straight win and moved them to 7-1, two games in the loss column ahead of Green Bay Packers (6-3).

It began with a forced fumble and takeaway by Tillman on the first play of the game and had reached 28-2 at the end of a first quarter in which offense, defense and special teams all scored touchdowns.

Notably perhaps, in the aftermath of a dizzying game in which the Bears scored in every quarter, the casual talk was already about next Sunday nights game with the Houston Texans, also at 7-1. The Bears hadnt looked past the Titans; they simply compartmentalize better and better, meaning the Titans were then, the Texans are now.

Im thinking about Houston, said left guard Chilo Rachal, part of the offensive line that helped Forte rush for103 yards on 12 carries. I think everyone is already thinking about Houston. And yet we did not overlook this Tennessee team whatsoever. Thats something different about this team.

Sunday marked the third time in eight games that the Bears have scored 40 or more points. They did not reach 40 all last year after doing it exactly once per season in the three previous years.

We are right where we need to be, Peppers said. Were doing a great job of focusing in on each opponent and thats what were going to do this week.

Tennessee was a great game, but you know what? Weve got to put this to the side. Weve got Houston coming in so we cant sit around and talk about how good we are.

That is where special starts.

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."