Lovie Smith demanded a fast start from his Chicago Bears after a sluggish performance a week ago.
They certainly responded.
Charles Tillman forced four fumbles. Brian Urlacher scored on a 46-yard interception return. Plus, Chicago turned a blocked punt into a touchdown.
And for good measure, Jay Cutler threw three scoring passes to Brandon Marshall.
The Bears put up their highest point total since 1980 on Sunday, routing the Tennessee Titans, 51-20, in Nashville for their sixth straight win.
“This week our whole motto was, ‘Let’s start fast,’ ” said Tillman. “To create a turnover on the first play of the game was the mind-set going into the game.’’
Tillman did just that, stripping Titans receiver Kenny Britt on Tennessee’s first offensive play and proving how exceptionally dangerous these Bears are.
Chicago (7-1) scored a franchise-record 28 points in the first quarter. It took control by creating three turnovers in the first 13 minutes, resulting in 14 points.
Urlacher became the latest Bears defender to score on an interception return. They have done it a club-record seven times — no other NFL team had returned six for TDs through the first seven games of any season.
The Bears had already topped the 50-point mark with 10 minutes left. They posted their highest-scoring game since matching a team record in a 61-7 win over Green Bay on Dec. 7, 1980.
The Titans (3-6) lost their second straight, giving up their most points since a 59-0 loss at the Patriots on Oct. 18, 2009.
Broncos 31, Bengals 23
Peyton Manning improved to 8-0 in his career against the Bengals, overcoming his two interceptions with three touchdown passes in Denver’s win at Cincinnati. It was Manning’s 48th career game-winning drive, moving him ahead of Dan Marino for the NFL record.
Manning was 27 of 35 for 291 yards for a passer rating of 105.8. He came up just short of tying Steve Young’s NFL record of five straight games with at least 300 yards and three TDs passing. Manning threw a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Joel Dreessen to put Denver ahead, 24-20, and after Andy Dalton was picked off by Champ Bailey, Manning put it away with a 4-yard scoring pass to Eric Decker with 3:36 left.
The Broncos (5-3) also got a team-record 105-yard kickoff return from Trindon Holliday to open the second half. The Bengals (3-5) lost their fourth in a row.
Buccaneers 42, Raiders 32
Rookie Doug Martin set a Tampa Bay record with 251 yards rushing and scored four touchdowns to lead the Buccaneers (4-4) to a shootout win over the host Raiders. Martin, who was born in Oakland and went to high school in nearby Stockton, had a memorable homecoming by scoring on runs of 1, 45, 67, and 70 yards. According to STATS LLC, he’s the first NFL player since at least 1940 to score on three TD runs of at least 45 yards in one game.
Carson Palmer threw for 414 yards and fired three of his four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter as Oakland (3-5) slashed an 18-point Bucs lead to 35-32 with 3:51 to go. But Palmer also was intercepted three times, twice in the final three minutes.
Martin, who averaged 10 yards on 25 carries, broke James Wilder’s Bucs record of 219 yards in 1983. The Boise State product (drafted 31st overall) gave Tampa Bay the lead for good with a 45-yard TD run on the first possession of the second quarter.
Panthers 21, Redskins 13
Cam Newton had the upper hand is his anticipated matchup with Robert Griffin III, and DeAngelo Williams made his longest run of the season (30 yards) count for a touchdown as visiting Carolina broke a five-game losing streak.
Newton threw for 201 yards and ran for 37 while playing part of the game with a bloodied thumb. Newton’s 13-for-23 outing included an 82-yard pass to Armanti Edwards that set up his own 1-yard scoring run for a 21-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. Newton also found Steve Smith in the end zone for the first time this year, a 19-yard strike late in the first half.
Leading the NFL in penalties entering the game, Washington (3-6) committed 13 infractions for 97 yards. Griffin completed 23 of 39 passes for 215 yards and ran 11 times for 53 yards. He also was sacked four times and was stopped on a fourth-and-goal run at the 2, ending a drive that lasted 10:11.
Packers 31, Cardinals 17
Green Bay’s longest play of the season — a 72-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to backup tight end Tom Crabtree to end the third quarter — stunted an Arizona rally and highlighted a fourth consecutive win for the hosts. The Packers (6-3) finally got their running game going as well with a season-high 176 yards on 39 carries.Continued...