There might not be anyone in the NFL making more plays on the ball this season than Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller.
The fifth-year veteran is tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions after picking off the Bills’ Nathan Peterman on the final play of the third quarter Sunday at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. Fuller is deadlocked with Falcons cornerback Damontae Kazee, Panthers rookie corner Donte Jackson and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger, and his team-best nine pass breakups are more than any of the other three.
But Fuller’s 12th career interception represented only a portion of his contribution to another dominant defensive performance by the Bears, who are second in the NFL in interception percentage, third in rushing yards a game, fourth in average yards a play and fifth in total yards a game and average yards a rush.
Fuller set up outside linebacker Leonard Floyd’s interception return for a touchdown when he blasted Buffalo wide receiver Zay Jones just before a Peterman pass reached him, a legal hit because Jones was within a yard of the line of scrimmage on the third-and-3 play. The ball deflected off Jones and into the arms of Floyd, who had dropped into coverage, and he went 19 yards for the Bears’ third pick-6 of the season.
Fuller also got a hand on the Peterman pass that targeted wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, deflecting it away from the intended receiver and into the hands of safety Adrian Amos.
“Kyle Fuller put on a show,” Floyd said. “It came from a great week of practice he had, and [Sunday] he got rewarded for it.”
As aggressive as Fuller has been on the field, he’s laid back everywhere else, as when he matter-of-factly described his role in Floyd’s interception.
“Just third-and-short,” Fuller said. “I had good position on the inside route, and Floyd was in great position. Good things happened when we went to the ball.”
Fuller has continued to build off last year’s spectacular comeback after a 2016 season in which he spent the entire year on injured reserve after arthroscopic knee surgery in the preseason. In 2017 he tied for second in the league with 22 passes defensed to go along with a pair of picks.
As a first-round pick in 2014, Fuller had moved into the Bears’ starting lineup in Week 3 of his rookie season. He started the final 14 games that year and all 16 the next season, picking off a total of six passes. But that 2016 season was a rough one for Fuller as inside linebacker Danny Trevathan recalled. That was Trevathan’s first year with the Bears.
“He was one of the first people I talked to when I came here,” Trevathan said. “When he got injured and people were questioning him, I was really trying to talk to him a little bit. He’s one of the best people I’ve met in my life, and I’m just happy to see him succeed. He works his tail off, and he never begs for anything. That’s the type of guys you want on this defense.
“He don’t talk too much, but when he’s out there, you feel his presence. He’s a great leader for us. We’re glad to have him on this team.”