LAKE FOREST -- Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman won defensive player of the week -- without recording an interception -- due to his shutdown performance on Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on Monday night.
And the award comes after consecutive games in which he returned interceptions for touchdowns.
“It’s hard to do, and that says how special that performance was,” head coach Lovie Smith said of winning the award without a turnover.
Johnson caught just three passes for 34 yards but was targeted 11 times. Tillman also forced two fumbles, though both went out of bounds.
“It’s like art,” Brandon Marshall said. “The way he played the fades in the red zone and just his body position on certain routes, breaking up slants. It was just art in the making and I’m glad I get a chance to work against him every single day because he makes me better.”
The two have gone up against each other every day since training camp and Marshall hopes it’s made them both better.
“That’s what the best guys do,” he said. “When I was in Denver I went up against Champ (Bailey). It’s the same here. We have that power to make each other better.”
Smith was happy voters for defensive player of the week didn’t just look at statistics.
“It says people are watching the game and looking at detail,” he explained. “Sometimes those stats don’t tell the full story of the game. He’s an excellent football player. He does so much and you see it time after time. He’s a consistently good football player for us and I’m glad others took notice.”
Tillman made his first pro bowl last season and continues to play at high level even in his 10th year in the league. To the people around him it comes as no surprise due to his work ethic. Marshall reiterated Tillman’s play near the end zone, on Johnson, was a thing of “art.”
“Those plays against Calvin in the red zone, you know, I hate running fades against him because that’s what he does,” Marshall said of knocking the ball away. “He’s consistent and works at it. Charles is definitely special and I’m glad to be his teammate.”
For Smith, it starts with being a good athlete but at the level that Tillman is playing, so much more goes into it.
“From there it's experience, know-how, working hard and constantly improving your craft, your trade,” the head coach said.