LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Lance Briggs sure doesn’t look like he’s slowing down.
The Bears’ 31-year-old Pro Bowl linebacker still has plenty of spring in his step, and that was clear during Monday’s game at Dallas.
Briggs hit the pedal when he picked off Tony Romo, returning an interception 74 yards for a touchdown, and Chicago’s defense again went full throttle in a 34-18 victory.
For all the questions surrounding an aging core, that unit has kept its foot on the gas. The defense will try to keep it there against an offense that ranks at the bottom when the Bears visit Jacksonville (1-3) on Sunday.
We’re going to play how we play because we’re the star football players that we are, Briggs said. I love to play the game at a high level, and I want to play this game at a high level as long as we can play it.
The Bears’ defense was in gear against the Cowboys, picking off Romo five times in a dominant performance. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns, with Charles Tillman taking one 25 yards in the second quarter and Briggs running his back in the third to make it 24-7.
It happened after defensive tackle Henry Melton hit Romo as he tried to deliver a shovel pass. The ball popped out to Briggs, and he burst through a crowd, outrunning everybody on the way to the end zone.
Man, he took off, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. Great play. Great ball skills, and we had so many guys turn and try to block, which is important.
Marinelli called Briggs an extremely gifted athlete and truly one of the great ’backers.
It’s hard to argue, considering Briggs became just the fourth Bears linebacker to make seven straight Pro Bowls last season, joining Hall of Famers Dick Butkus, Bill George and Mike Singletary. He led the Bears with 147 tackles and got a renegotiated contract that runs through 2014.
Best outside linebacker in the NFL. He does it every week, teammate Brian Urlacher said of Briggs. He shows up. He makes big plays. He stresses me out sometimes because he moves around so much before the snap, I don’t know if he’s going to end up in the right spots. But he always does, makes big plays, tackles for losses. He’s always there.