After sub-par performances the past two weekends, the Bears run defense entered Sunday's game against the New York Jets as men on a mission.
"We were disappointed in ourselves for getting ran on after starting the season kicking people's butts," said outside linebacker Aaron Lynch. "Our whole vibe this week was we were just going to come out and be aggressive, hit people, and if you hit and miss, you hit and miss, but we were just going to hit you."
After yielding 161 and 108 yards on the ground in back-to-back losses to the Dolphins and Patriots, respectively, the Bears run defense held the Jets to 57 yards on 24 carries, a 2.4-yard average. It was the second fewest rushing yards the Bears have yielded this season, topped only by a 52-yard outing in a Week 3 win over the Cardinals.
The Jets entered Sunday's game ranked 12th in the NFL in rushing averaging 121.9 yards per game. Earlier this season, New York ran for 323 yards in a win over the Broncos.
"That team rushed for 300-plus yards and we got beat up in the rushing game the last two weeks," Lynch said. "We were kicking butt against the run. When you can beat the run, everything else is great."
Sitting out: Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack missed the first game of his five-year NFL career with an ankle injury. The decision wasn't made until Sunday morning.
"We talked to him and we just talked to our trainers and it was just something where we just felt like for him and for our team, it's the best thing to just let him sit this one," said coach Matt Nagy. "Fortunately, we came out with the win, but that's just how it goes."
Nagy said that the Bears are hopeful that Mack will be able to play next Sunday against the Bills in Buffalo.
"The hope is that he can, but this is day-by-day, daily, hour-by-hour," Nagy said. "Right now, [sitting out Sunday] was what was best for him and what was best for us. We had guys that stepped up. That's the other thing that you can't get lost in this is when a great player like Khalil or another player like Allen [Robinson] doesn't play, we have guys that step up. I'm proud of our guys for doing that."
Running man: Mitchell Trubisky passed for 220 yards and two touchdowns, but he also continued to do damage with his legs, rushing for 51 yards on six carries. Trubisky entered the game with 245 rushing yards, the second most by an NFL quarterback.
Trubisky's 10-yard scramble on third-and-10 sustained a drive that led to a touchdown early in the second half. His six-yard gain on third-and-six followed by a one-yard pickup on fourth-and-one led to a field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. He also had a 10-yard run on a crucial late touchdown drive.
"That's a weapon for us," Nagy said. "You saw early on in the game they were spying him. They did a couple drop eight defenses and had him spy, which is normal. Teams will do it. If you catch them when they are not doing that, that's the weapon. So if you're going to double guys downfield or you're going to take away some players, then he has the ability to run."
Injury update: Right guard Kyle Long exited Sunday's game with 3:23 remaining after injuring his right foot. "We'll obviously know more here as we go throughout the next couple days and get that looked at," Nagy said. "I know he was in some pain, but we won't know the exact details here until the next couple days when he gets it looked at."
After being voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons with the Bears, Long has dealt with ankle, neck, shoulder and elbow injuries the last two years.
"He's already been through so much already and it sucks to see Kyle go down like that," left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said after the game in the locker room. "We don't know the severity of it yet, so we're just trying to support him back there and give him some love because I know what he's been through."