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Bears make NFL history, overwhelm Jaguars 41-3

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Bears make NFL history, overwhelm Jaguars 41-3

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs have been Chicago Bears teammates for a decade, watching each other grow from talented rookies to entrenched starters to savvy veterans.

If they weren't forever linked before, they surely are now.

Tillman and Briggs made NFL history Sunday by becoming the first teammates to return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive weeks. Tillman's score was pivotal in a 41-3 victory at Jacksonville.

``We're still going strong 10 years later,'' Tillman said.

The Bears (4-1) scored 38 unanswered points in the second half to win their third consecutive game. The streak has everything to do with defense. Chicago has returned five interceptions for touchdowns in those games.

Tillman and Briggs returned two of the team's five INTs for scores in Monday night's 34-18 victory at Dallas. Major Wright returned one the previous week against St. Louis.

Tillman's second of the season - a 36-yarder in the third quarter Sunday - proved to be the decisive play in a game that saw as many punts (six) as points in the first half.

``This one was an easier catch,'' Tillman said, recalling his juggling pick of Tony Romo's pass six days earlier. ``Last week, it was, `Is he really throwing me the ball?' This week was normal. This one was easier. It came at a good time. We needed a lift, and that score got us rolling to the point the offense started putting up points after that.''

The Bears finished with 501 yards of offense, 309 in the second half, and held Jacksonville to 45 yards after the break. The Jaguars ran just four plays in the third quarter.

``It's been the same thing for five years,'' Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. ``Obviously, we're not working hard enough. I don't know. We're just not playing well right now. We have to figure something out. No one here is going to save us. We got to look man to man at each other and figure out what we're going to do.''

The Jaguars (1-4) never recovered from Tillman's touchdown and played the final quarter amid a chorus of boos. Jacksonville now heads into its bye week with serious questions about what direction the team is headed under general manager Gene Smith, quarterback Blaine Gabbert and maybe even first-year coach Mike Mularkey.

With Smith assembling the roster, the Jaguars have lost 18 of their last 24 games.

They have been downright pathetic in three home games this season. They managed 117 yards in the home opener against Houston, 212 last week against Cincinnati and 189 Sunday.

``I can talk up here all night about what we did, but that's not going to cure anything,'' Gabbert said. ``We've got to come out in the second half and play better football. It starts with me. When you throw two Pick 6's in a half, that's awful. I've got to find a way to fix that and get this offense going a little bit.''

Gabbert completed 17 of 33 passes for 142 yards, with two interceptions and a lost fumble. The Bears stacked the line of scrimmage, clearly wanting to shut down Jones-Drew. It worked, as Jones-Drew finished with 56 yards on 12 carries.

Following Tillman's score, the Jaguars allowed consecutive touchdown drives after playing stout defense in the first half.

Jay Cutler hooked up with rookie Alshon Jeffery for a 10-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter and then found Brandon Marshall for a 24-yarder with 8:37 remaining in the game.

Briggs' score came after that, a 36-yard return that made it 34-3.

``The defense put up some points again,'' said Cutler, who completed 23 of 39 passes for 292 yards. ``We're never really out of a game with those guys on defense.''

Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards. Matt Forte, who has one touchdown this season, ran 22 times for 107 yards.

Few outsiders gave the Jaguars a chance before the game. The only thing that seemingly was in Jacksonville's favor was catching Chicago on a short week. The Bears got home from Dallas early Tuesday and were back on a plane Saturday.

That may have contributed to Chicago's slow start. But it mattered little in the second half - thanks mostly to the interceptions.

``I know they know how important it is to take the ball away,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said. ``There is an emphasis on it. And after a while, you see one guy doing it, you want to join in on that action. It's discouraging to the offense. We normally win when we score one time, and it's probably safe to say we haven't lost when we score a couple times on the defensive side.''

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.