This was like Arena Football for three quarters,but in the end,the Bears used three touchdown passes from Jay Cutler and a TD on the ground from him,and overcame a big game from Mark Sanchez to outscore the New York Jets 38-34 to retain the inside track for the #2 NFC Playoff seed and first round bye.
Snow was not a factor early,but about five minutes into the game,it started.The Jets Nick Folk kicked off short to the Bears Rashied Davis whop returned 16 yards to his 34. Matt Forte carried off the middle for four yards.He than swept around right end for five,just short of a first down. On third down, Chester Taylor powered over an ‘eight in the box’ defense for the new set of downs at his 46.A quick false start against Brandon Manumeleuna made it first and fifteen.Cutler scrambled and found a wide open Devin Hester to the right for 14 at the Jets 45. Forte took the hand off two yards behind the line and was clobbered by David Harris for no gain.On play action, Cutler tried to his Kellen Davis,who was bumped by LB Calvin Pace(though not really by much), and the pass interference penalty made it first down at the Jets 26.Cutler overthrew Johnny Knox on first down.Forte then picked up three to the 23.On a screen pass,Forte was stopped by Brodney Pool leaving it fourth and three and Robbie Gould converted his 37 yard field goal,even though it was tipped at the line.Brad Smith returned the kickoff 19 yards to his 26 and was clobbered by Davis. On first down,LaDainian Tomlinson was nail,but the Jets were called for holding.Sanchez then hit on a slant play to Santonio Holmes.Tomlinson broke up the middle,fumbled and teammate Brandon Moore recovered. Sanchez then hit Jerricho Cotchery for a first down at the NYJ 38. Holmes on an end around to the left side was hit by Tim Jennings, fumbled and Chris Harris recovered at the Jets 45.A Cutler pass for Greg Olsen went threw his hand and Knox caught it for a 15 yard gain to the NJ 30.Forte then gained 8 hard yards before being tossed out at the 22.Forte then busted two tackled en rout to scoring a 22 yard rushing TD and with Gould’s PAT, it became 10-0 with 4;54 left in the first quarter. Gould’s kickoff went through the end zone for a touch back.On this drive, New York looked like a different offense, as they did for the rest of the first half, as they marched right through the Bears, 80 yards in just eight plays. Shonn Green got a fast 12 yards on first down. Sanchez on a play fake found a wide open Matthew Mulligan at his 45.Sanchez then found a wide open Dustin Keller for 26 at the Bears 29. Sanchez tossed a lateral to Cotchery for no gain.Greene on a delay was stopped by Tommie Harris for no gain.With no pass rush,Sanchez hit Keller at the Bears 11 for a first down.A false start on Robert Turner made it first at 15.Sanchez hit Braylon Edwards for 13 to the Bears 3 as the first quarter ended. Greene then busted up the middle,just about untouched for a three yard TD, cutting the Bears lead to 10-7 on the first play of the second period. Manning returned the kickoff to the NY 46,but a holding penalty on Rod Wilson brought the ball back to the Bears 25. From that point,this drive was a disaster! A false start on Chris Williams brought the ball back to the 20.Taylor was killed behind the line by Pace for a loss of five.Cutler then tried to hit Earl Bennett,but Dwight Lowery jumped in front of him, picked it off and scored untouched 20 yards, to make it 14-10 Jets. Davis got another short kickoff and returned it to his 40. After an incompleted pass,Forte picked up two yards.Then after another incompleted pass, Brad Maynard to Cotchery who escaped two two tackled and got to his 28. On first down, Edwards caught a Sanchez pass for 16 to the 44. Greene,on a pitch out,was hit by D.J.Moore for no gain. A short pass to Keller(who was stopped by Brian Urlacher)was limited to fours yards. A Sanchez pass intended for Cotchery,was thrown right to Chris Harris,which he missed.That was Sanchez’s first incompletion. Former Illini Steve Weatherford angled a punt away from Hester out of bounds at the Bears nine. After a short gain by Taylor,Cutler had all day,found nobody open,but did not throw it away. He instead took a ten yard sack back at the three.A delay of game moved it back to the one and a half. Cutler then overthrew Hester,forcing Maynard to have to punt from deep in his end zone,and his very short 34 yard kick rolled dead at the Bears 36.Two running plays left it third and seven,but Sanchez hit Holmes for 16 at the Bears seventeen.Sanchez was flushed out of the pocket,but got away from T.Harris for twelve and a first and goal at the Bears three.Tomlinson then scored easily to make it 21-10 with 5:44 left in the half. The kickoff was returned to the Bears 36. Cutler’s first completed pass of the second quarter was a five yarder to Olsen.But another false start by Williams gave those yards right back.A little screen pass to Forte worked for 24 to the NYJ 40.The next pass for Forte was incomplete with David Harris on his back,but no flag. Cutler then missed a wide open Forte at the 20.This time Bennett came back on an under thrown pass,and grabbed it for 14 yards to the 26.A little lob pass was caught by Forte who was forced out at the Jets two.Cutler then on a play action,scrambled around right end and scored without a hand being laid on him,and the Jets lead was cut to 21-17 with 2:44 left in the half. Gould’s kick into the wind,was returned to the Jets 33. Greene went off left tackle to 12 quick yards as the two minute warning hit. Sanchez then hit Greene for five at midfield.Greene then found a hole for seven to the Bears 43.Holmes then caught a fast pass to the right at the Bears 25. Greene swept the left for a first down at the Bears 14,then he ran into the line for a one yard loss. Sanchez scrambled as his line got away with an obvious,but uncalled hold,his Homes at the Bears nine.Keller then dropped a sure TD pass and Folk kicked a 26 yard field goal with :12 left in the half. The half ended 24-17 Jets.
The Jets took the opening kickoff,and rather than punt to Hester after getting stopped on the first three plays,they went for it on fourth down and an incompleted Sanchez pass gave the Bears the ball at the Jets 40.The Bears made the visitors pay quickly as Cutler dropped back and hit Knox who got behind Lowery for the tying score just 1:40 into the half.Joe McKnight returned Gould’s kickoff his 27.After stopping the Jets three and out, Weatherford punted to Hester who zig-zagged 38 yards to the Jets 32.Forte made a shoestring catch of a short pass for four yds. On a ‘Wildcat’ formation, Forte took the direct snap for three yds.On third down, Cutler dropped back,and found Hester for a 25 yard TD to give the Bears the lead back 31-24 just 5:31 into the third qtr. Brad Smith returned Gould’s kickoff to the NYJ 34. Sanchez threw a bullet to Edwards for 19 yds to the Bears 48. Greene picked up six,then broke into the open for 18 to the 23. Holmes then lost everyone on a blown coverage and caught the game tying 23 yard TD pass. Hester returned the kickoff 40 yds to the Jets 48. Hester then caught an 8 yd pass to the NYJ 40.Forte then picked up the first down to the 39.Then Knox caught one at the Jets 26.This time Knox made a summer-salt catch in the end zone and the Bears regain the lead with 6:06 left in the third quarter.Smith fielded Gould’s kickoff on the bounce and returned it to his 38. Edwards caught the first down pass at his 45.The Jets then had a third and less than a yard, and Tony Richardson picked it up to the Bears 44.Tomlinson gained four to the 39. On a play action that had kept the Bears off balance all day, Sanchez hit Keller for a first down at the 32.Tomlinson gained eight to the 24.He then easily got four to the 20 for a first down.Sanchez over threw Holmes in the near coffin corner. Tomlinson gained four to the sixteen as the third quarter ended.The Jets had to settle for a 34 yard Folk field goal as the fourth period began,trimming the Bears lead to 38-34.The kickoff was away from Hester this time and the Bears started at their 34. Fote carried to his 40. On a pitchout,he rolled around the left side and gained 12 to the Jets 48.Cutler went deep to Hester who just missed it at the Jets five yard line.Forte busted through the left side for 32 yards and got to the NYJ 16.Taylor then picked up a pair to the 14.Cutler,hit from behind was sacked for a three yard loss.Then came an incompleted pass that was intended for Olsen and Gould missed a 35 yard field goal try wide right,giving the Jets the ball at their 25 with 11:26 left. Tomlinson got hit for a two yard loss by Lance Briggs. Sanchez hit a quick slant pass to Edwards for 11. On third and one, Richardson got the first down to his 36.On first down, Anthony Adams got Sanchez’s arm as he over threw Holmes. But them Greene got open for a screen pass and the Jets had another third and one,and on a scramble to the right,he hit Keller for a first down at midfield.Greene picked up 4 off right guard to the Bears 46.Sanchez appeared in the grasp,but then threw the ball away and got away with it.Edwards then got free and took a Sanchez pass for seven yards at the Bears 39. Greene danced for four yards to the 35.Sanchez avoided a sack and air mailed a pass out of bounds. A pass intended for Edwards was broken up by Charles Tillman. Weatherford was called on to punt and rolled it dead at the Bears ten.Forte was stopped for no gain on first down. Cutler then missed connection with Forte on second down. Cutler then avoided a sack in the end zone and threw one away,forcing Maynard in for his biggest punt of the game.He sent a 49 yarder to Cotchery who lost a yard on the return.The Jets began at their 40.Keller caught on over the middle for six at his own 46.Tomlinson was stopped by C.Harris for a one yard loss.On third down, Sanchez tried to his Cochery and D.J.Moore broke it up. Weatherford kicked it out at the Bears five with 3:02 left.Forte gained two on first down as the Jets used their first time out. Forte then broke free for eight and a first down to the 15 as New York used their second time out.Forte went off left tackle for no gain and the Jets took their last time out with 2:43 on the clock.Forte on second down picked up one yard to the sixteen as the clock ticked to the two minute warning.The Bears kept it on the ground as Forte gained two and the Bears ran the play clock to one and called their first time out with 1:14 left. Maynard kicked it on the ground and it hit Marquice Cole,but Catchery recovered it at his 28.A first down pass intended for Cotchery was incomplete but the Bears were offside,making it first and five at 33 and Chris Harris brought this game to an end with an interception and the Bears took over at their 31. Cutler kneeled down to end it.
NOTES— Cutler was 13-25 for 215 yards,3 TD,one interception and scored on TD on th ground.His passer rating was 104.2……Sanchez ende up 24-37 for 269 yds,1 TD,I interception and a passer rating of 84.2…..The Jets clinched a Playoff birth despite their loss,since Washington upset Jacksonville.