While the Bears' offense has gotten off to a slow start this season, their defense has kept them in nearly each and every game. Heading into the game against the Jets, the Bears were ranked third in the NFL in points allowed; the Jets were ranked fifth. No one expected the kind of shootout fans were treated to on Sunday.
While the Bears' offense has clearly had its share kinks to work loose, they now seem to have found their groove. In their last two games, they've scored 72 total offensive points, not including Devin Hester's return-for-touchdown against the Vikings last week.
The Bears' recent offensive explosion offers a little bit of comfort, as defensively they have allowed 84 total points in their last three games. Not to mention, allowing Mark Sanchez to all-but resemble Tom Brady in the pocket and throw for one of his best games this season.
But, despite the early struggles on defense, the Bears' eleventh win of the season came at the hands of a number of key plays from all three phases of the game:
Nothing was more frustrating on Sunday than the Bears' lack of pressure; a key ingredient to making their defense function. As a result, Sanchez killed the Bears with short slant routes and quick dips up the middle. That kind of offense is to be expected against the Bears, but it's the d-line's job to generate pressure and keep it all in-check. That didn't happen on Sunday. But, it wasn't just the Jets passing game that took advantage. Statistically one of the best defenses in the league against the run, the Bears allowed Shonn Greene to average 5.7 yards per carry on the day. While it took some time and adjustment, the Bears' defense eventually rebounded with a big defensive stand in the fourth quarter to hold the Jets to a field goal and keep the Bears on top.
Looking at the box score, you might have no choice but to believe the Jets were going to win the football game. They owned nearly every stat: From first downs to net yards, redzone efficiency to time of possession, the Jets looked to have the edge. But, it was the Bears' starting quarterback who kept his team in the game and orchestrated the comeback victory. "What he showed today is that he's a great leader. He's ready to get back out there and make it happen," wide receiver Earl Bennett said after the game. Cutler finished 13 of 25, for 215 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He completed six of seven passes for 117 yards in the third quarter alone. Matt Forte also managed another big game, rushing for 113 total yards and one TD.
For some strange egotistical and downright idiotic reason, Rex Ryan decided to opt for a fake-punt on fourth-and-three at the Jets' 40 yard line, while still ahead of the Bears 24-17. And while nobody really bought it, it was Rashied Davis, the former cornerback, who stepped up and made the play; batting down the pass, effectively turning the ball over on downs. Mike Martz took the shot personally and just one play down the field later, the Bears had tied the football game. I'm not sure what made Rex Ryan think he would catch, probably, the best special teams unit in the NFL sleeping on the job, but hey, nice try? Devin Hester continued to give the Bears excellent field position, whether he was returning kicks or not. On just two return attempts on the day, Hester had 78 total yards.
The Bears will find out on Tuesday night, when the Vikings play the Eagles, if they need to beat the Packers on Sunday afternoon in order to clinch a first-round bye. If the Eagles beat the Vikings as expected, the Bears will have to find a way to victory, on the road, against a red-hot Aaron Rodgers. If the Bears should lose to the Packers, they'll need the Cowboys to upset the Eagles, in Philly, in order to clinch the bye.