Led by a balanced offense and a stifling defense, the Bears snapped a two-game losing streak with a 24-10 win over the New York Jets Sunday at Soldier Field.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky passed for 220 yards and two touchdowns and benefited from a rushing attack that produced a season-high 179 yards. The Bears defense limited the Jets to 207 yards, forcing six three-and-outs on New York's first eight possessions.
"They focused on what we talked about—being aggressive and finishing," said coach Matt Nagy. "Finish was a big thing and then protect Soldier Field."
With the win coupled with losses by all three of their division rivals, the Bears (4-3) moved back into first place in the NFC North ahead of the Vikings (4-3-1), Packers (3-3-1) and Lions (3-4).
Trubisky's two touchdown passes were both impressive plays. A 70-yarder to Tarik Cohen came on a perfectly-designed screen that beat a blitz and gave the Bears a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. After Cohen turned up field, the only Jets defender between him and the end zone was erased by a Taylor Gabriel block.
"I feel like coach Nagy and the offensive guys, they schemed up a perfect call for the perfect situation," Cohen said. "When I got the ball, there was literally nobody in front of me. 'Turbo' made the key block and the rest is history."
Trubisky's second TD pass, a 4-yarder to rookie Anthony Miller, came on a beautiful back-shoulder throw that put the Bears ahead 14-3 midway through the third period. The Jets dropped eight defenders into the end zone, increasing the degree of difficulty.
"When that happens, now it's not about the play, it's about the players, and that's exactly what happened there," Nagy said. "The quarterback made a hell of a throw. Anthony made a hell of a catch. They adjusted, threw a back-shoulder. In my world, that's a special throw. I was really proud of those guys for that."
A Bears offense that was stagnant in the first half—other than the Cohen TD—awakened in the second half, scoring on three straight possessions.
"We felt like we were just a tick off in the first half," Nagy said, "so everyone's got to reel it in a little bit and come out and just be a little more detailed, myself included, and I thought we toned it up a little. The guys were focused."
After the Jets closed the gap to 17-10 with their only touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter, the Bears answered with an eight-play, 79-yard drive that was capped by Jordan Howard's 2-yard TD burst, extending the margin to 24-10.
"What I was most impressed with the offense was able to respond after the touchdown they had," Nagy said. "Those are the types of things I like to see from our offense, is responding and growing."
Howard's TD came two plays after he broke loose for 24 yards, his longest run of the season. He finished the game with 81 yards on 22 carries, his most productive outing since he gained 82 yards on 15 attempts in a season-opening loss to the Packers.
Trubisky completed 16 of 29 passes and posted a 102.7 passer rating. With Allen Robinson II inactive with a groin injury, Gabriel caught four passes for 52 yards, Joshua Bellamy added four receptions for 37 yards and Miller caught four passes for 37 yards.
The Bears defense limited the Jets to four first downs on their first eight possessions through the first three quarters. The unit recorded only one sack of rookie quarterback Sam Darnold but held the Jets rushing attack to 57 yards on 24 carries, a 2.4-yard average. New York advanced inside the Bears' 20 on only one of 11 possessions.
"Defensively, I thought it was really good to be able to try to stop the run," Nagy said. "That was one of our big things going into this was stop the run and that will set up some other downs and distances. So they did that."
Nickel back Bryce Callahan led the defense, recording the Bears' only sack along with three pass breakups, one tackle-for-loss and one quarterback hit.
Sunday's win came after back-to-back losses to the Dolphins and Patriots.
"We wanted to see what we could do after going down two games and we got a 'W,'" said left tackle Charles Leno Jr. "We're just trying to build from that. We're a tough resilient team and we're just going to try to keep battling."