The Bears kept their hopes for a post-season bye alive with a 38-34 win over the Jets on Sunday at Soldier Field. Chris Harris sealed the win with an interception to end the game, capping off a second half that showed a Bears team capable of making in-game adjustments.
Chicago started the third quarter with a big defensive stop, forcing the Jets to a three-and-out. New York tried a trick play on the fourth down, but the Bears special teams unit immediately recognized it and stopped the Jets from getting a first down. That momentum shifted to the offense. Cutler hit Johnny Knox with a 40-yard touchdown pass -- the kind of pass that makes you nervous and thrilled all at once. He threw two more touchdown passes like that in the third quarter, a 25-yarder to Devin Hester and a 26-yarder to Knox.
The Bears needed that quarter because he Jets went into the locker room at the half with a 7-point lead because of a huge second quarter. They started the quarter with a methodical drive down the field, ending in a Shonn Greene touchdown. That was followed up with a pick-six on the very next drive. In a play that reminded Bears fans of the disastrous Redskins game, Dwight Lowery intercepted Cutler and ran it back for a 20-yard touchdown. The Jets added another touchdown and a field goal, while the Bears offense could only muster one touchdown.
The Bears defense was not at its best against the Jets. The pass rush was non-existent, and sack machines Israel Idonije and Julius Peppers couldn't get a hand on QB Mark Sanchez for much of the game. New York figured out that power running and quick, short-to-medium range passes are effective against the Bears defense.
Cutler, Hester, Forte and Knox starred in this game. Despite the weak first half, Cutler came back with a killer third quarter and finished with 215 yards and three touchdowns. Forte provided reliable yardage every time he was given the ball, giving the Bears 113 yards on 19 carries. Hester had two huge returns in the third quarter -- 38 and 40 yards -- and added 48 receiving yards. Knox's touchdown grabs showed that he is always a downfield threat.
Chicago's next task is to head to Lambeau Field to face the Packers in the final season of the game, with hope alive for a bye in the first week of the playoffs.