DETROIT --- If you think the Bears' defense was ineffective with Brian Urlacher during the first half of Sunday's 24-20 win over the Lions, imagine where they would have been without him.
The team's captain and middle linebacker helped hold a shaky defense together in the first half, making nine of his season-high 17 tackles during the first two quarters. The total, which will likely continue to climb when the coaches' tape is evaluated, was tied for the fourth highest total of his career.
"He's the constant on this defense," defensive end Julius Peppers said. "If you can't count on anything else you can count on him to show up every week. He's the leader. He's the star. We all follow his lead and today he picked us up when things weren't going so well."
The Bears defense allowed 253 yards and 17 points during a first half that saw Urlacher make the bulk of his tackles farther from the line of scrimmage than he would like. Missing tackles was a problem for the entire team during the first two quarters. Urlacher even whiffed on a couple, including a Maurice Morris run early in the second quarter that rookie Major Wright cleaned up with a big hit.
In the second half, the defense allowed 49 yards and three points.
"We made a ton of adjustments at halftime," Urlacher said, rolling his eyes. "We didn't do anything. We came out and played better in the second half. We just didn't tackle well in the first half. We didn't read our keys. We didn't make plays. In the second half we did what we do, we got to the quarterback, we stopped the run and we got to the football."
What may have been the worst defensive series of the season occurred right before halftime when Lions running back Jahvid Best ran off tackle and disappeared into a scrum of players only to emerge a moment later before sprinting 45 yards. On the next play, quarterback Drew Stanton hit Calvin Johnson for a 46-yard touchdown pass to give the Lions a 17-14 lead at the break.
"We got muddled up there," Urlacher said, referring to Best's run. "I was in the "B" gap on the other side. All of a sudden he took off running. That's what I saw. I don't know what happened."
Urlacher could not have cared less when informed of his tackle total after the game.
"I was just trying to do my job," he said. "We had some busts. They had some long plays. They're fast. Their running back is pretty fast. He had a couple long runs on us but we made plays at the end."