The Bears snapped a two-game losing streak and moved back into first place in the NFC North with an impressive 24-10 win over the Jets Sunday at Soldier Field. Here are three things that stood out in the game:
(1) After two sub-par outings, the Bears defense reverted to its early-season form.
The defense didn't produce any game-changing impact plays, recording just one sack and not generating a takeaway for the first time this season. But the unit stifled the Jets virtually from start to finish, yielding just 207 total yards and 12 first downs, the fewest in both categories in seven games this year.
The defense also had its best day on third down, allowing the Jets to convert on only 21 percent of its opportunities (3 of 14). Success on third down was a key factor in the Bears forcing three-and-outs on six of the Jets' eight possessions through three quarters.
"I thought our defensive line did a good job in those situations of just kind of closing down some of the lanes," said coach Matt Nagy. "They were just penetrating the pocket and collapsing it, which makes that quarterback (rookie Sam Darnold), especially a young guy, it makes him kind of jittery and then he's got to throw it not on time.
"The other thing I thought our DBs did really well, and our linebackers, they were around the throws with the receiver. Whoever it was, it was a contested catch. It was never just an easy catch, and I like that. There were some good pass breakups. That's what we discussed we needed to get better at and I thought they really challenged those guys. It works together, right? The d-line rushes and they make the quarterback not throw on time and then you're there to break it up."
Stopping the Jets on the ground—running back Isaiah Crowell was limited to 25 yards on 13 carries—enabled the Bears to put New York in predictable passing situations, something the defense was unable to do a week earlier in a loss to the Patriots.
New England needed an average of 2.9 yards to pick up a first down on its 13 third-down plays Oct. 21, with none longer than third-and-seven. The Jets, however, needed an average of 7.9 yards for a first down on their 14 third-down plays Sunday, which included seven snaps of third-and-nine or longer.
(2) Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky continues to excel with his arm and legs.
The second-year pro accounted for 271 yards Sunday, completing 16 of 29 passes for 220 yards with two touchdowns and rushing for 51 yards on six carries. Trubisky has thrown multiple TD passes in each of the last four games and five contests overall this season after failing to do so in any of his 12 starts last year as a rookie.
Over the last four games, the second pick in last year's draft has passed for 1,223 yards with 13 TDs, three interceptions and a 113.1 passer rating and rushed for 232 yards and one TD on 23 carries. The 13 TD passes are the most in a four-game span by a Bears quarterback since Hall of Famer Sid Luckman in 1947. Trubisky's 296 rushing yards this season are second by an NFL quarterback to the Panthers' Cam Newton (309).
"We needed to continue to find ways to stay on the field and sometimes it's me pulling the ball down and making plays for the offense," Trubisky said. "They are a really good defense. Sometimes you've just got to go out there and make plays, whether it be a good run, scrambling or making a big catch on third down. The more times we can find ways to just convert on third down, stay on the field, grind it out, get the defense tired and stick to our plays and just execute like we know how, that's when we can be dangerous and get in a rhythm and continue to score."
(3) The Bears clinched the victory by relying on their running game late.
With Sunday's game still in doubt in the fourth quarter, the Bears put the ball in running back Jordan Howard's hands and the third-year pro delivered. Howard carried on nine of the Bears' final 11 offensive plays spanning their last two possessions.
After the Jets had closed the gap to 17-10 early in the final period, Howard's season-long 24-yard run to the New York 6 set up his 2-yard touchdown run two plays later, widening the margin to 24-10 with 7:08 left in the fourth quarter. On the Bears' final drive, Howard gained 19 yards on six carries, helping to burn 3:26 off the clock and forcing the Jets to call all three of their timeouts.
Howard rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries in the game. "I thought that this was like the true definition of persistence over resistance for him, and for our offensive line," Nagy said. "What I liked was he had a bunch of runs there where he kept chewing up a couple yards here or there. You weren't really feeling it and then, boom, he popped it in four-minute-type mode, that 24-yard run. That's refreshing for him, it's refreshing for the line, it's refreshing for us, and I was proud of him. We just kept plugging away."
Bears photographer Jacob Funk selected his best photos from the Bears game against the New York Jets at Soldier Field.