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Chicago Bears defense shoulders blame for free fall

Early-season success has given way to serious problems, and now the Chicago Bears are trying to right the ship.

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Sitting at 7-1, and staying in-step with the Atlanta Falcons as the class of the NFC, the Chicago Bears' defense looked unbeatable. Now at 8-6, the same defense that once portrayed dominance looks fallible -- and they're pointing the finger at themselves.

Forcing fumbles and interceptions set the Bears apart early in the season. Totaling 28 takeaways in the opening eight games, that well has dried up -- forcing just eight turnovers in the last six games. Standout cornerback Tim Jennings, responsible for six of those early interceptions, understands that they're not having the same success now:

"we haven't been creating the turnovers we had in the first half of the season."

Opposing offenses averaged just 13.7 points against the Bears earlier this season, but during this 1-5 stretch that number has ballooned to 21.0 points per game -- and it's too much for the struggling offense to keep up. For veteran linebacker Lance Briggs, this stretch has been crushing, but he remains focused:

"We still have a chance though to get into the playoffs. It can't get any worse than this I hope. Let's just focus on beating Arizona and go from there."

With games against Arizona and Detroit remaining, it's possible the Bears can overcome this ugly stretch and find their footing, but the defense will have to return to early-season form, and they know it.