(MCT) — NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The fist hit the ball, but it really hit the Titans in the gut.
On their first play from scrimmage, Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw a pass to Kenny Britt over the middle. It was a 23-yard gain, but then Bears cornerback Charles Tillman’s knuckles arrived.
He knocked that ball out. Then he knocked out two others in the first half. He would knock out four for the game. He now as a career-high seven forced fumbles for the season.
“It sets the tone for us definitely on defense that we are going to come out and we are going to take the ball away, which is our first objective,” Bears defensive end Julius Peppers said.
Everyone at LP Field seemed to marvel at Tillman’s ability to get the ball out when the Titans knew he was coming for it.
“I don’t think it’s difficult,” Tillman said with a shrug. “It is always on my mind. I am very conscious of it. I speak it; I believe it; I practice it; it happens.”
If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. Many times when defenders go for the football they miss the tackle.
“I guess I have gotten good over the years at punching, and if I don’t get the punch or the forced fumble, the majority of the time I get the tackle,” Tillman said. “It can misfire at times, but I would probably say 90, 95 percent of the time if I miss, or if I don’t get the forced fumble, I am pretty confident that I can get the tackle.”
At 31, Tillman is playing the best football of his life. He already has been named NFC defensive player of the week once this season and player of the month once.
“I’m telling you right now, he’s getting defensive player of the year,” Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. “Hands down, there’s no one playing better than him. ... We’re all seeing history being made. I’ve never seen anybody do what he’s done and is able to do it so consistently.”
Tillman did it all for the Bears on Sunday. He led the team in tackles with nine. Afterward, he took time to shake hands with the members of the 101st Airborne Division of the army from Fort Campbell.
Tillman hopes the best is yet to come.
“Our goal isn’t to peak right at Week 8,” he said. “We want to keep peaking each week. We don’t want to level off. I think once we start to level off we will lower our standards. We don’t want to do that. Sky is the limit and we are just going to keep doing what we can do and keep playing hard and doing the ordinary things better than everybody else.
“I don’t think our scheme is hard. We’re not trying to out-scheme anybody. We just do the ordinary things better than everybody else. Our whole goal is to outplay our opponent.”