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Tillman, Briggs make history with repeat returns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (MCT) — Those wanting to look for the negative can chastise the Bears for failing to be original.

For the second game in a row, Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs each returned an interception for a touchdown.

But there was some originality even in repetition: This was the first time in NFL history the same two players returned interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive games.

“It’s unreal, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “Two straight weeks, same two guys, pick-6s — it’s awesome.”

Tillman and Briggs were draft classmates in 2003, Tillman in the third round, Briggs in the fourth. So many other Bears picks from that class — Michael Haynes, Rex Grossman, Bobby Wade and Justin Gage among them — have been gone for years, but Briggs and Tillman have endured.

Tillman, in fact, has been as productive as any cornerback in Bears history. His interception Sunday was his 32nd, which tied Donnell Woolford for most among Bears corners. Only safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37) had more as Bears.

He also has more touchdowns off interceptions than any player in Bears history with seven. In second place? Briggs, with five.

Briggs didn’t stick around to take a bow in front of the media, but Tillman was available.

“It’s cool, it’s an honor,” Tillman said. “The Bears go back 200 years. They are so old, (you think about) all the great players who have come here and what they’ve done. Yeah, man, to be that guy, it’s an honor to represent this organization with that.”

Tillman also represented his alma mater over the weekend. While all of his teammates flew to Jacksonville, Tillman flew to Louisiana, where he attended Louisiana-Lafayette’s homecoming game against Tulane. At halftime, he was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame.

“I went in for that tremendous honor, and I left at halftime after the ceremony,” Tillman said. “I’m a little exhausted from all the flying I’ve done, but it was a really good day yesterday and today.”

Coach Lovie Smith allowed Tillman to make the trip, in part because he appreciates everything Tillman contributes.

“The guy just does everything you want a cornerback to do,” Smith said. “He has great size, plays hard, has good hands, tackles and has an uncanny knack for taking the ball away.”

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