Bowman steps in for Tillman and shines

CHICAGO -- In the starting lineup for the first time in almost two years in place of the injured Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears veteran cornerback Zack Bowman made an immediate impact on Thursday night, picking off an Eli Manning pass on the third play of the game and returning it 24 yards to the New York Giants' 12-yard line.

For Bowman, it marked his first interception since the 2009 season, when he led the Bears with a career-high six picks.

“When Eli took the snap he just kept looking my way, looking my way, and I knew he was going to try and throw it right on the sticks to pick up the first down,” Bowman said. “So I settled in my area, caught the ball and took off. I thought I was going to score on the play. Everyone told me after the play I should have cut back, but I saw the open lane to the outside and tried to hit it as fast as I could.”

Bowman said he had a suspicion the Bears would play it safe with Tillman during the short week, but that he received word Thursday morning that Tillman's knee injury would keep him out. Bowman’s last start had come on Dec. 25, 2011, against the Green Bay Packers.

“I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen,” Bowman said. “We were just told he was a game-time decision. They were like, 'You’ve been here before and you know what you are doing.' So I had to go, and I was ready.”

Bowman finished the game with three tackles and one pass defended, in addition to the interception.

Bears coach Marc Trestman hinted after the game that Tillman is expected to return when the team travels to face the Washington Redskins on Oct. 20. The two-time Pro Bowl cornerback likely would have played in this week if the Bears had hosted the Giants on Sunday, not Thursday.

"Fortunately, we found a way to win without him," Trestman said, "and it will be great to have him back next week."