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.