East Rutherford, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) – Jay Cutler completed two touchdown
passes to Martellus Bennett and the injury-riddled Chicago Bears held off the
New York Jets, 27-19, on Monday night.
Cutler completed 23-of-38 passes for 225 yards and the two scores for Chicago,
which emptied its defensive backfield for the second straight week due to
Alshon Jeffery, playing through a hamstring injury, made eight catches for 105
yards while Bennett became the third player in the NFL this season with at
least one receiving touchdown in all three games. He trails just Denver tight
end Julius Thomas for the league lead in receiving scores.
Chicago (2-1) failed to establish a running game for the second straight week,
but found a way to win yet again. Two-time Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte
carried 13 times for 33 yards, and Chicago picked up just 60 yards on the
ground as a unit one week after gaining only 46 in a win over San Francisco.
Chicago’s battered defense picked off Geno Smith twice, sacked him three
times and allowed just one touchdown in six trips to the red zone. Smith had
an opportunity to tie the game with a late scoring drive, but the Bears D held
up one last time, forcing a turnover on downs from the 9-yard line with less
than a minute left.
Smith threw for 316 yards and a touchdown to Jeremy Kerley, who paced the
receiving core with seven grabs for 81 yards.
The Jets (1-2) have lost two straight games.
Smith scrambled for 11 yards on the first play of the game, but his first
pass of the game went right to cornerback Ryan Mundy, who ran 45 yards
untouched to give the Bears a 7-0 lead 30 seconds in.
Both teams went three-and-out on their next series, but another mistake by
the Jets set up Chicago’s second touchdown. Rookie Jalen Saunders couldn’t
secure Pat O’Donnell’s punt and Ahmad Dixon pounced on it to give the ball
back to the Bears.
Brandon Marshall drew a pass interference penalty on the first play of the
ensuing drive and on 3rd-and-goal, Cutler found his tight end Bennett in the
back of the end zone.
Nick Folk potted a 43-yard field goal towards the end of the quarter to put
the Jets on the scoreboard, but Robbie Gould countered with a short kick of
his own a minute into the second.
Smith’s 43-yard completion to Jace Amaro set up another Folk field goal, this
time from 28 yards away, at 9:57 of the second.
Later in the period, the Jets finally found the end zone when Smith stood in
the pocket and took a crushing blow from Lamarr Houston, but not before
delivering a strike to Kerley. The 5-foot-9 receiver also took a big hit, but
held onto the ball and fell over the goal line to cut New York’s halftime
deficit to 17-13.
Cutler led a flawless drive to open the second half, dropping a 42-yard pass
into Jeffery’s hands down the left sideline on the second play to get things
going. He found Marshall in the end zone two plays later, but a penalty
nullified the score. Cutler was unphased, however, firing to Bennett on third
down for a 13-yard touchdown.
Smith made a crucial error on New York’s next drive, throwing into heavy
traffic in the end zone. Rookie Kyle Fuller was there to secure his third
interception of the young season, ending a promising Jets drive.
Folk kicked field goals on each of New York’s next two possessions to cut the
margin to 24-19.
Gould was pure on a 45-yarder late in the fourth to make it an eight-point
game. Chicago picked up a pair of third downs on the series to take the clock
down to 3:10 before kicking off for New York’s final possession.
The Jets went for it on fourth down in their own territory just before the
two-minute warning, and Smith found Amaro right at the sticks to keep the
drive alive. Chicago challenged the ruling, which was upheld, and three plays
later, Smith hit Greg Salas for a career-long 51-yard pickup.
Smith led his offense inside the 10, but came up just short of tying the
score. On 4th-and-5 from the 9-yard line, Chicago sent the house and Smith
lofted a fade to Kerley, who came down with the catch two yards past the back
of the end zone.
Bennett joins Philadelphia’s Jeremy Maclin and Thomas as the only players with
a touchdown reception in every game this season … Marshall had one catch for
six yards. He has caught a pass in 118 straight games … Since 2010, the
Bears have returned 19 interceptions for touchdowns. No other team has more
than 13 in that time … Chicago has won 15 straight games when leading at
halftime … The Bears improved to 8-3 all-time against the Jets. They’ve won
four straight in the series … Smith leads the NFL since the beginning of the
2013 season with six interceptions returned for touchdowns.