EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—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.
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.