It wasn't easy, but the Chicago Bears withstood a late push by the New York Jets to escape the Meadowlands with a 27-19 victory on Monday night.
Ryan Mundy had an interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter, and Martellus Bennett snagged two touchdown catches to help push the Bears' record to 2-1 on the young season.
The game got off to an interesting start as the Bears grabbed the lead on just the second play from scrimmage. When Geno Smith tried to throw a screen pass to Chris Johnson, he misread the route, and when Ryan Mundy nabbed the interception, he ran it all the way back to the end zone to give the Bears a quick 7-0 lead in the contest.
After another failed New York drive, the Bears got the ball and promptly went three-and-out on their first offensive possession. Fortunately for them, Jalen Saunders muffed his punt return attempt, and Ahmad Dixon landed on the fumble to give the Bears the ball right back. After a pass interference penalty against New York set the bears up in the red zone, Martellus Bennett snagged a touchdown catch in the back of the end zone, and just a little over five minutes into the game, Chicago held a 14-0 lead.
On the Jets’ next drive, they were able to move the ball down the field more effectively, but the Bears’ defense continued to stand tall. Ego Ferguson picked up his first career sack on the drive, and Jon Bostic was all over the field in making several key plays. The Jets were able to get on the board thanks to a Nick Folk field goal, but they still trailed 14-3 in the first quarter.
The Bears responded with a lengthy drive of their own, with Cutler showing off a couple of slick moves in the process. He found Alshon Jeffery on a nice bubble screen for a first down, and he also found Bennett on a seam route for another one. On the last play of the first quarter, Cutler showed off his quick feet too, running for a first down to extend the drive.
After the second quarter began, the drive ended up stalling out for the Bears. Jeffery was wide open in the end zone on one play, but Cutler overthrew him. He then missed his receiver again on the next play, and the team had to settle for a Robbie Gould field goal to put them up 17-3 early in the second quarter.
The Jets had another decent drive to follow up the lengthy Bears’ possession, but a great defensive play by Stephen Paea cut it short as he jumped up to knock down a wayward pass by Smith. Folk was able to chip in the field goal however, and the Bears’ lead was cut to 17-6.
The Bears’ next drive wasn’t much to write home about, and they ended up suffering a couple of losses in the injury department. Tony Fiametta was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury, as was Brandon Marshall, who aggravated his ankle injury and was sent to the locker room for treatment. Pat O’Donnell had to punt the ball away after that, and while Dixon made a nice play to stop any return, the Jets still used the momentum swing in their favor.
Thanks to a Lamarr Houston penalty, the Jets got a free 15 yards on the ensuing drive, and the possession ended with a touchdown for New York as Jeremy Kerley withstood a huge hit from Danny McCray and fell across the goal line to make it a 17-13 game.
Cutler fumbled the ball away on the Bears’ next drive, but Paea saved the day again as he got a free release up the middle of the field and forced Smith to throw the ball out of bounds on third down. The Bears ran out the clock after that, and held a four point lead going into halftime.
The Bears came out of the halftime break on a mission, and they quickly marched down the field on a scoring drive. Jeffery caught another long pass to kickstart things, gaining 42 yards on the play, and then Matt Forte was barely tripped up on a screen pass. On third and long in the red zone, Cutler fired a pass to a wide open Bennett, and in the blink of an eye the Bears expanded their lead to 24-13 early in the second half.
After both teams exchanged unsuccessful drives, the Jets knocked another Bears player out of the game as Chris Conte was knocked out by a huge shot from Jets running back Chris Ivory. Fortunately for the Bears, that loss didn’t come back to haunt them, as Kyle Fuller hauled in his third interception in two weeks in the end zone to prevent New York from climbing back into the game.
As the third quarter neared an end, the Jets got the ball back, and the Bears gave them prime field position after a silly penalty by Terrell Manning. The Jets were stopped short of the goal line thanks to some great play by Sutton and Ferguson, but Folk kicked his third field goal of the evening as the Jets narrowed the lead to 24-16 just before the end of the third quarter.
As the fourth quarter got underway, the Jets began to threaten again, but thanks to some good defensive pressure, they were forced to settle for yet another field goal. Jared Allen nearly got a sack on the third down play for the Bears, and Bostic tipped the Smith pass harmlessly away. Folk did make the ensuing kick, and New York trailed by a score of 24-19.
On the Bears’ next drive, they picked up several key third downs to move down the field and keep the clock moving. Forte picked up a huge blitz by the Jets to give Cutler enough time to loft a ball up to midfield, and Jeffery went up and made an incredibly athletic catch to haul it in. Forte picked up a first down of his own on the next set of plays, rushing on a sweep out past Jermon Bushrod, but ultimately the drive was stopped short of the goal line, and Gould’s field goal made it 27-19 Bears with just over three minutes remaining.
After Jace Amaro narrowly picked up a first down on a tough fourth down play to start the drive off, the Jets got a couple of huge gains through the air for the first time in the game. Thankfully, the Bears’ defense showed some serious resolve to finish things off, with Fuller batting down a third-down pass and Brock Vereen shoving Kerley out of bounds on a fourth down catch attempt in the end zone to seal the victory for the Bears.
Chicago won’t have much time to savor the victory however, as they have to prepare for a Sunday afternoon game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field.