NCAA

Second-ary to none, DBs doing their part for Bears

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Second-ary to none, DBs doing their part for Bears

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears had some question marks in their secondary when the season started. It turns out they had some answers, too.

With the defensive line applying the pressure up front and the guys in the backfield letting little get past them, the Bears lead the NFC North at 6-1.

They keep coming up with big plays. They keep getting recognized for it, too, with Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman being selected NFC Defensive Player of the Month for October.

All he did was return two interceptions for touchdowns, limit Detroit's Calvin Johnson to just three catches for 34 yards and help hold opposing quarterbacks to a league-low 61.9 passer rating while the Bears went 4-0. A month earlier, Bears cornerback Tim Jennings got the recognition.

``It's exciting,'' linebacker Lance Briggs said Thursday. ``It's exciting for all of us when our defensive backfield are playing well. Our men up front are playing well. A lot of teams have to beware no matter what set of defensive linemen we have in. If the ball gets set a little high, if you slip on a route, you know that our guys are going to be in a position to make a play.''

The Bears have been making plenty this season.

They're tied with the New York Giants for the NFL lead with 16 interceptions even though they've played one less game and have returned a club-record six for touchdowns.

While the defense keeps racking up points, it's not giving up many. The Bears are allowing 14.3 per game - second lowest in the league - and are second in takeaways with 23.

But they're not just making plays. They're doing it at big moments.

``Success is at an all-time high because we're comfortable back there,'' Jennings said. ``We know each other's style of play. You can't say too much about Peanut (Tillman); you know what he's going to give you every Sunday. And with the young group of safeties that we have, I'm very comfortable with them just from the fact that I know their abilities.''

Jennings, the league leader with six interceptions, joined the points parade with a key pick last week in a 23-22 win over Carolina. That happened right after Jay Cutler connected with Kellen Davis on a touchdown in the fourth quarter, cutting a 12-point deficit to five.

On the Panthers' next play from scrimmage, Steve Smith slipped running an out pattern and the ball went right to Jennings. He returned his second interception of the game 25 yards for a touchdown, giving Chicago a short-lived lead in a game they ultimately won on a field goal as time expired.

It was just another quick strike by the defense at a key moment.

Against St. Louis on Sept. 23, Major Wright delivered the knockout blow in the fourth when he returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown on a pass that Jennings deflected.

The next two games against Dallas and Jacksonville, Tillman and Briggs returned interceptions for touchdowns, making them the first duo in league history to do that.

``I think sometimes it's just your year,'' cornerback D.J. Moore said. ``It doesn't happen like this every year. ... You've just got to do what Coach tells you to do, be in the right position. Plays happen for you. It's a skill league, but there's a lot of luck into it. Sometimes, you're just in the right spot at the right time.''

Takeaways have been a big point of emphasis for Chicago ever since coach Lovie Smith took over in 2004, but veteran linebacker Brian Urlacher can't remember a year like this.

``We just make big plays at good times,'' he said.

Urlacher credits the defensive line for creating the pressure, but the secondary sure is doing its part despite some question marks.

Tillman was coming off his first Pro Bowl season but is also in his 10th year in the league. So there were concerns about his age.

Jennings had trouble hanging onto the ball in the past, but now they just might be the league's most effective cornerback duo.

``I don't know,'' Tillman said. ``We're only halfway through the season, and I definitely think there's room for improvement, not only with myself but with Tim. The sky's the limit. I definitely think we can. But you don't get any awards for halfway through the season, for being the best cornerback tandem.

``I definitely think there's potential for that. We just got to keep doing what we've been doing, making plays, covering receivers, creating turnovers, getting our offenses some good field position and scoring.''

Notes: The Bears held OT Jonathan Scott out of practice because of a groin injury, while DE Julius Pepper and Urlacher were coach's decisions. Briggs (toe) was a limited participant, and TE Matt Spaeth (ankle) was a full participant after being limited the previous day.

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James Madison at Delaware College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA TODAY Sports

James Madison at Delaware College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Winners of two straight, James Madison will hope to continue its victorious run against rival Delaware. 

The Blue Hens, meanwhile, have won four of their first six conference games and will be looking to keep pace in the competitive CAA when they host the Dukes at Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del. on Thursday, Jan. 17.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m ET and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

James Madison at Delaware How to Watch

What: James Madison Dukes at Delaware Blue Hens
Where: Bob Carpenter Center, Newark, Del. 
When: 7 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder)

James Madison at Delaware Preview

Conference: Colonial Athletic Association
Record: James Madison (9-9, 2-3)  Delaware (12-7, 4-2)
Last Game: 74-65 win vs. Towson 1/12 (James Madison), 71-58 loss at College of Charleston, 1/12 (Delaware)
Leading Scorers: Stuckey Mosley, 15.7 ppg (James Madison), Eric Carter, 17.3 ppg (Delaware)

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Wizards vs. Knicks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Wizards vs. Knicks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards have traveled across the pond and will take on the New York Knicks in London, England Thursday (3 pm, NBC Sports Washington) as part of the NBA Global Games slate. 

Washington has brought some momentum with it on its journey to the United Kingdom, the Wizards winning five of their last eight. 

The Knicks, meanwhile, have lost three straight, and are just a game and a half above the basement-dwelling Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings.

Here's is what you need to know for Thursday's game.

WIZARDS vs. KNICKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. New York Knicks, Game 45 of the 2018-19 NBA season
Where: The 02 Arena, London, England
When: 3:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Knicks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Knicks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the new MyTeams App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. KNICKS TV SCHEDULE

2:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
2:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)
3:00 PM: New York Knicks @ Wizards (LIVE)
5:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)
6:00 PM:Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

WIZARDS vs. KNICKS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard (Back, Out), Markieff Morris (Neck, Out), John Wall (Heel, Out)
Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Hamstring, Day-to-day), Mitchell Robinson (Ankle, Day-to-day), Enes Kanter (Personal reasons, Out), Kristaps Porzingis (Knee, Out)

WIZARDS vs. KNICKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards: With John Wall out for the season, Beal has played like a true superstar, averaging almost 30 points per contest in his last eight games. Can he put on a show for the London crowd Thursday? 
Emmanuel Mudiay, Knicks: Mudiay has been a bright spot for the Knicks during a troublesome season. The 22-year old is scoring a career-high 14.5 points per game, second on the team only to Tim Hardaway Jr.'s 19.8.

WIZARDS vs. KNICKS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 335 games (36 playoff games)
Regular Season Record: Knicks lead 169-130
Playoff Record: Knicks lead 23-13
Last Meeting: Wizards win 110-107 on 12/3/18
Last 10: Wizards lead 9-1

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: