In a matchup of two of the league’s top defenses, the Jets and Bears exploded for a surprising 72-point outburst in Soldier Field.
Matt Forte ran for 113 yards and a touchdown and Jay Cutler threw for 3 TDs. But the Bears didn’t have this one cinched until Chris Harris intercepted Mark Sanchez with the Bears clinging to a 4-point lead.
With the 38-34 win, the Bears moved closer to securing the #2 seed in the NFC…and a 1st round playoff bye. The Jets were coming off a big road win against the Steelers in Pittsburgh and had a chance to punch their playoff ticket with a win.
The first half was a story of runs. The Bears jumped out to a 10-0 lead on a Robbie Gould 37-yard field goal and a 22-yard Forte TD run. The Jets responded with a 21-point barrage thanks to a 3-yard Shonn Green TD run, a 20-yard Dwight Lowery interception return and a short LaDainian Tomlinson TD run to go up 21-10.
The Bears quickly answered with a 2-yard Cutler TD keeper to cut the lead to 21-17. After a Jets field goal put them up 24-17 at half, it didn’t take the Bears long to regain momentum.
On fourth down at midfield on the first possession of the second half, the Jets opted for a fake punt that failed when Sanchez, lined up as a blocker, took the snap and threw a pass in the flat that was dropped. On the next play, Cutler made Rex Ryan pay for his decision when he chucked a 40-yard bomb to Johnny Knox to knot the score at 24.
After forcing the Jets to punt, Devin Hester owned the next series. Jets punter Drew Weatherford ignored his coach’s instructions to keep the ball away from the Windy City Flyer, putting the ball in #23 hands in the middle of the field. Hester raced down the right sideline for a 38-yard return. Three plays letter, Cutler hit Hester for a 25-yard TD pass to reclaim the lead.
But in a back-and-forth, offensive shootout, the Jets bounced back.
Sanchez led a drive down the field that ended in a 23-yard Santonio Holmes TD reception. Once again, the Bears responded. Cutler connected with Knox again, this time a 26-yarder that gave the Bears a 38-31 lead they would not relinquish.
Chris Harris intercepted Sanchez at midfield with a little over a minute remaining to secure the Bears’ 38-34 win.
While it’s hard to believe, the end of the regular season is upon us. The Bears now head to Lambeau for an important season finale. A date with a desperate Packers squad, which is still battling for a playoff spot, awaits. A Bears win in the land of cheese would guarantee an all-important first-round bye