Jets and Bears fans hoot it up before the game at Soldier Field. | AP
Updated: December 26, 2010 6:22PM
Rex Ryan of the New York Jets doesn’t coach by the book.
He’s doesn’t shy away from controversy on the field, and he doesn’t shy away from high-risk gambles on the field, either.
But the Jets conceded momentum and significant field position early in the third quarter, when they attempted to convert a 4th and 3 from their own 40-yard line. Immediately after failing, the Bears capitalized, scoring a 40-yard touchdown and rallying for a 38-34 victory at Soldier Field.
The game got dramatic in the fourth, although the scoring slowed down, until safety Chris Harris intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass with 52 seconds remaining, pushing the Bears’ record to 11-4.
After scoring 24 points in the second quarter, the Jets got the ball to open the third quarter. After Bears linebacker Lance Briggs tipped a pass to a wide-open Santonio Holmes, the Jets sent out their punting unit but direct-snapped the ball to quarterback Matt Sanchez, who rolled right and attempted a pass to receiver Brad Smith.
But Bears receiver Rashied Davis – who broke into the league as a cornerback – wasn’t fooled, and he knocked the ball away.
Then the Bears offense didn’t miss a chance to seize control.
Quarterback Jay Cutler attempted a deep pass to Johnny Knox, who was covered by Jets backup cornerback Drew Coleman, and the Bears receiver easily caught the ball in the end zone. Then, the Bears defense forced a three-and-out, and receiver Devin Hester returned the ensuing punt 38 yards down the right sideline, giving his offense a short field.
The Bears needed just three plays to score, with Cutler completing a 25-yard touchdown to Hester.
It was a back-and-forth game, as the Bears jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first before the Jets scored 21 unanswered points, including an interception that cornerback Dwight Lowery returned 20 yards for a touchdown.
But the Bears scored three touchdowns in the third quarter, and they held a 38-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
On Monday Night Football, the Bears offense exploded for 40 points against the Minnesota Vikings. The fireworks continued for the offense, only the defense struggled against the Jets’ offense.
In the first half, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez completed 13 of 15 passes for 156 yards, while Cutler was just seven of 14 for 98 yards, including the interception that was returned for a touchdown. Sanchez cooled in the third, while Cutler got hot, throwing three touchdowns.
Cutler finished the game 13 of 25 for 215 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Sanchez was 24 of 37 for 269 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
On Sunday, the NFL schedule allowed for the possibility that the Bears could clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC, with some help from division rivals. They could beat the Jets, then have the Green Bay Packers beat the New York Giants in the afternoon game and the Vikings beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Sunday night game.
But, the NFL pushed the start of the Eagles-Vikings game in Philadelphia to Tuesday evening, due to the blizzard in the Northeast.