It was not necessarily an artistic success, but it was a success all the same, which is the important thing for the Bears.
Their 10-0 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday put them at 9-1 and, with Green Bay and Minnesota losing, just a victory away from clinching at least a tie for the NFC North title.
With the Jets running what the visitors dubbed the "muddle huddle" offense of frequent substitutions into a no-huddle system, the Bears shook off a bumpy 0-0 first half.
They took advantage of New York mistakesby players and coachesfor a field goal in the third quarter and a touchdown in the fourth while outgaining the Jets 115-61 in the final quarter, 204-108 in the second half.
"It seems like we have been a second-half team for a while," said Bears coach Lovie Smith, whose team is 23-1 when leading after three quarters.
Fifty-seven of the Bears' yards came on a touchdown pass from Rex Grossman to Mark Bradley, and Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson and the offensive line pounded the Jets for 173 yards, or 4.9 yards per run.
"We didn't let them score, we ran the football well and we are going to win a lot of football games that way," Grossman said.
After a scary first series for the Bears' defense that included a 28-yard reverse from quarterback Chad Pennington to running back Leon Washington to wide receiver Tim Dwight, the Jets went almost exclusively to what they call their "sugar huddle" and the Bears termed the "muddle huddle."
The system had the Bears off balance, often out of position and out of sorts.
The Jets came out running, as expected, but with some twists. They played some smash-mouth with three running backs rotating, plus some deception in the form of the reverse.
A holding penalty and the Bears' defense forced the Jets to punt from the Chicago 34, but the Bears weren't in control of the game. The Jets piled up 105 yards to the Bears' 37 for the quarter.
But while the Jets were gaining yards, they weren't getting into the end zone.
They gained 137 yards on their first three possessions of the game but only 127 more on their next eight.
What went right: Thomas Jones, getting the ball on eight of the first nine plays, rushed for 35 yards and caught two passes, accounting for all but one of the Bears' 37 net yards.
What went wrong: The passing offense picked up 2 yards, completing three of five passes. The Jets showed or executed blitzes nearly every down, but the Bears were unable to exploit the situations.
Quote: "They gashed us early, but that always happens at the beginning of the game for us."
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on the Jets' running game.
The Jets were driving when the first quarter ended and kept it up into the second quarter, marching from their 24-yard line to the Bears' 6. But the defense averted disaster when Adewale Ogunleye came in on Pennington's front side, forcing a hurried throw toward tight end Chris Baker and into tight coverage.
Urlacher sliced in front of Baker and picked off only the second red-zone interception of Pennington's seven-year career. From 3 yards deep in the end zone, Urlacher returned the pick 36 yards to the Bears' 33.
But the Bears, on their way to only 80 net yards in the half, did virtually nothing with the opportunity.
Cedric Benson picked up 21 yards on two runs, but a wide-open Bernard Berrian dropped a pass deep in New York territory, leading to another Bears punt.
The defense managed to hold off the Jets with increasing effectiveness despite a big disparity in time of possession and the offense's failuresThe Bears got the ball back at their 28 on the next possession, but that nearly ended in catastrophe when safety Kerry Rhodes beat tight end John Gilmore and sacked Grossman for an 8-yard loss. Grossman appeared slow to get up and took a delay-of-game penalty before running another play that nearly ended in calamity. Jones burst off right tackle for 17 yards, short of a first down, but the ball came out at the end of the play.
The apparent fumble would have given the Jets the ball at the Bears' 35. But the Bears successfully challenged the call, which was reversed to end the danger. The Jets reached the Bears' 35 just once more all day.
The Jets used the Bears' lofty reputation as motivation, setting a goal of matching the Bears on defense.
They achieved that early: The Bears' 80 yards of total offense was the Jets' lowest total allowed this season.
What went right: Besides Urlacher's interception, the Bears had seven tackles for loss in the half.
What went wrong: The defense failed to gain traction against the Jets, and the offense continued to sputter.
Quote: "Urlacher made a great play [on the interception]. He just broke on the football really quickly. I didn't see him until I let go of the football."
Pennington, the Jets' quarterback
The Jets invited disaster with an onside kick to start the half, and the Bears were more than happy to take the gift. It was a questionable coaching call by Eric Mangini in a 0-0 game in which his team held a slight edge in control.
Chris Harris took the kick and held on against two huge hits to give the Bears the ball at the Jets' 44. Jones ripped off runs of 19 and 13 yards around a pair of 4-yard bursts, giving the Bears first-and-goal at the New York 4. But three dives by Jones netted only 2 yards, and the Bears settled for a 20-yard field goal by Robbie Gould for the first points of the game.
The Jets drove from their 29 into the Bears' end with third-down passing conversions of 22 and 14 yards, setting up a first down at the Bears' 30. But Alex Brown barreled in to hit Pennington as he was releasing a throw to Chris Baker, and Nathan Vasher picked off his second pass of the season to end that drive and give the Bears the ball at their 28.
That turnover went to waste, though. The Bears moved the ball for two first downs, but the drive died inside Jets territory.
An exchange of punts gave the Bears good field position heading into the fourth quarter. Brad Maynard pinned the Jets at their 10-yard line, the defense held and Jets punter Ben Graham got the ball only to the Bears' 49, which became the 39 with a holding penalty on the coverage.
What went right: The Bears were beginning to dominate up front and take the game away from the Jets both offensively and defensively. Their 89 yards of offense was more than their first-half total, and the Jets were held to 47.
What went wrong: Very little. The Bears moved into New York's end of the field on both their possessions and got a takeaway on the Jets' drive into their end.
Quote: "It would have been a great play if it had worked, but our guys were on top of it."
Smith on the Jets' onside kick to start the half
What was left of the Jets crumbled suddenly and dramatically. Mark Bradley, quiet (one catch, 5 yards) along with most of the Bears' passing game to this point, took a short, quick pass in the right flat against cornerback Drew Coleman. But the rookie backup was left in solo man-to-man coverage behind an all-out Jets blitz. Bradley faked Coleman off his feet and took off down the right sideline for a 57-yard touchdown, outrunning linebacker Jonathan Vilma into the end zone for a 10-0 Bears lead.
Jones had run over and through the Jets for 52 yards in the third quarter. Benson, who had four carries for 30 yards through the first three quarters, was then called on to do some heavy lifting, and he picked up 21 yards on six carries in the fourth quarter. He and Jones combined to give the Bears two possessions totaling more than eight minutes to prevent the Jets from regaining any appreciable momentum.
Mangini elected not to attempt a long field goal with 6:22 left and then was forced to punt after a false-start penalty, the last real chance the Jets had for points.
What went right: All three areasoffense, defense, special teamshad airtight efforts in a game that could have turned on one play.
What went wrong: The Bears converted only four of 14 third downs for the game.
Quote: "Somebody's band is going to play on that, and, unfortunately on that play, it was theirs."
Mangini on the max blitz the Jets brought on the TD pass
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