The defense gave the Jets a chance Sunday, but they would have needed a near-perfect game to win against the Bears. With an offense that had rookie quarterback Sam Darnold working with a bunch of new pieces, the defense had a lot on its shoulders and brought the fight early to what had been a hot Bears offense. But Chicago never flinched and took control of the game with a 17-point second half as the Green & White fell to 3-5 at the midway point with a 24-10 defeat in the Windy City.
If it weren’t for one play, the defense would have pitched a first-half shutout.
The Jets got to Mitchell Trubisky with their pressure packages, but the Bears were able to beat the blitz on one costly occasion. After the home club’s first drive ended on a missed Cody Parkey field goal, the Bears got the ball to their X-factor Tarik Cohen. With the Jets bringing seven rushers, Cohen leaked out of the backfield and caught a screen pass from Trubisky. The toss was a couple of yards, but the result was a 70-yard scoring reception as Cohen had an easy scamper to the end zone.
“I know what I have to do in that situation,” linebacker Avery Williamson said. “That was a miscue, so we came back and we fought. I told coach, ‘That was on me’ and that I was going to make up for it. I left it all out there the rest of the game, but that was on me.
“I just had to hug [Tarik Cohen] up. On that play I had to take him. I just swam him and I realized when it was too late.”
The visitors, playing without veteran cornerback Trumaine Johnson for a third consecutive outing, welcomed the returns of S Marcus Maye and CB Buster Skrine to the defensive backfield. They repeatedly stymied the Bears in the opening 30 minutes, holding Chicago to just 1-of-5 on third down. The Jets, who entered this contest holding opponents to just 33% on third-down conversions, held down the NFL’s fourth-best third-down attack in the early going and the Bears converted 33% of their third downs.
But the Jets yielded both ground and points in the second half. And for the second consecutive week, they failed to record a takeaway. When the game was on the line, the Jets couldn’t get off the field.
“We had a couple plays on us, but we played tough,” Williamson said. “We tried to keep as many points off the board as possible. I hate that they got as many rushing yards as they did and they had a couple of big plays, but at the end of the day we left it all out there.”
The Bears made it a two-possession contest midway through the third period. Trubisky, who entered the game the NFL’s second-leading rusher in regard to quarterbacks, converted a third-and-10 with his feet and Cohen’s 21-yard gain soon followed. The defense looked ready to hold, but a third-and-9 became a third-and-4 following a neutral zone infraction charged to DL Leonard Williams. The Bears spread the Jets out and Trubisky and rookie Anthony Miller were somehow able to connect despite Skrine draped on the rookie from Memphis.
Williams kept it a two-possession contest when he stonewalled RB Jordan Howard to close the third quarter. That forced a Parkey field goal and the Jets looked to be right back in it when Darnold hooked up with rookie TE Chris Herndon on a scoring reception for a third consecutive week.
What ensued, though, was a staggering counter from the Bears that put the game on ice. Trubisky got a big play in the air to Miller that covered 23 yards and then hurt the Jets again with his feet with a 12-yard scamper. Howard’s 24-yard run set up his 2-yard TD and that was it.
“It was tough. We were fighting hard, we were in the ballgame, we had a chance at that point,” head coach Todd Bowles said. “They got some runs, the quarterback got off one time and Cohen got out and Howard got out one time. That was tough to swallow.”