Chicago Sun-Times

Tillman not satisfied after sterling performance

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While his teammates were complimenting Charles Tillman for the many plays he made during a 35-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday's divisional playoff game at Soldier Field, the veteran cornerback was beating himself up over two plays he didn't make.

"No, I'm not satisfied," Tillman said after one of his best games of the season. "We're in the NFC Championship. Great. But those two plays, you've got to make those plays because they could've been the keys to the game."

Lovie Smith's respect for receiver Mike Williams was as obvious as the confidence the Bears' coach showed in Tillman, who was informed early last week that he would draw the assignment of blanketing the one player Smith knew his defense must contain to earn the right to host the Green Bay Packers in Sunday's NFC Championship game.

Despite being locked in at right cornerback this season after playing on the left side during the first seven years of his career, Smith had Tillman cover Williams no matter where he lined up for the majority of the afternoon.

"We had planned on matching Charles Tillman up, and pressing Mike Williams a lot more to try to get him out of the game a little bit more than we did the first time around," Smith said. "They did a good job with that."

As a result, the former USC star, who caught 10 passes for 123 yards in Seahawks 23-20 win over the Bears on Oct. 17, caught four passes for 15 yards despite being targeted by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck 13 times, which was more than any other receiver in the game.

"Charles did a great job," safety Danieal Manning said. "We knew that was going to be the biggest matchup in the game, and Peanut did an exceptionally good job. He even did a good job on the touchdown.

"That happened to me one time. I broke the play up and it bounced off me and the guy caught it. The same thing happened to Peanut."

The play Manning was referring to will haunt Tillman even though he played it about as well as a cornerback can. It appeared as if he had intercepted a low Hasselbeck pass intended for Williams in the end zone in the final minutes. Instead, the ball deflected off him and was caught by Williams for the touchdown that pulled the Seahawks to within 35-17.

Williams caught another touchdown pass early in the fourth quarterback but Manning was covering him on that play.

Earlier in the game, Tillman nearly had another interception only to have it slip through his fingers. He punished himself by doing 10 pushups on the field just like the Bears do in practice.

Tillman, who works out with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the offseason, knows the Bears secondary will have to be even better next week.

"He's a great quarterback," Tillman said. "I can't say how good he is often enough."

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Charles Tillman is one of the better draft picks Jerry Angelo has made, the 2003 2nd rounder out of tiny Louisiana-Lafayette is now tied for 4th on the Bears all-time interception list with 27, he's tied with Bennie McRae. I think by the end of next season Tillman will have passed Donnell Woolford for 3rd all-time, Woolford has 32.

The touchdown that Mike Williams caught on Tillman was luck, other than that play, Tillman straight up shut Williams down. As for Manning allowing the other touchdown vs Williams, for whatever reason, Manning always finds himself out of place in coverage. It might be a good idea to move rookie Major Wright to free safety next season, and let Manning and Chris Harris duke it out for the strong safety spot. Manning just seems to get lost a lot back there in coverage.

As for Aaron Rodgers, theres no denying he's great, and I still gotta laugh thinking about the draft back in 2005, and the way Rodgers sat there all day thanks to the 49ers making a huge mistake in going with Alex Smith over Rodgers. Before that draft, the 49ers were known for knowing their QB's. One was by drafting one of the biggest steals in draft history when they took Hall of Famer Joe Montana in the 3rd round in 79, and the other was when they stole another Hall of Famer in Steve Young from the Bucs. But the move of picking Alex Smith over Rodgers will haunt them for a long long time. Thanks to that 49er blunder, the Pack got lucky that Aaron Rodgers slipped to them....lucky. GO BEARS!!

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on January 17, 2011 10:32 AM.

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