JETS V BEARS | WEEK 12 GAME RECAP
Author: Randy Lange
Maybe it was Mike White getting the starting nod at quarterback. Maybe it was Darrelle Revis being inducted into the team's Ring of Honor? Maybe it was the confusion of who Chicago's starter would be: Justin Fields? Trevor Siemian? Nate Peterman? Siemian?
Maybe it was the black jerseys, pants and Stealth Black helmets for only the second time in franchise history.
Whatever it was, the Jets tapped into the magic, erased the bitterness of last week's loss at New England, and thumped the Bears 31-10 on a cold, rainy but remarkably upbeat (for the Jets) Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
With the win, the Jets moved back to three games over .500 at 7-4 to maintain their spot in seventh place in the AFC, the last spot in the conference's playoff grid. And as a side benefit, the Jets ended their two-game home losing streak to Chicago and their five-game skid in all games vs. the Bears. They're now 4-10 all-time against the Bears and 2-0 vs. the NFC North and all is right with the Green & White's world at least for another week.
A summary of the stars: White completed 22 of 28 passes for 315 yards, three TDs, no INTs and a 149.3 passer rating. Rookie WR Garrett Wilson, with five catches for 95 yards, barely missed his third 100-yard receiving game but did secure his fifth 90-yard game. And his two TD catches for the second game this season set a franchise rookie mark (see below).
Rookie free agent RB Zonovan "Bam" Knight, seeing increased action in his Jets and pro debut in this one, finished with 69 rushing yards, 34 yards on three receptions and thus 103 scrimmage yards. And Greg Zuerlein set a franchise home field goal distance record.
Pulling Away in the 2nd Half
Three short series, two by the Bears, started the second half. Then White and the Jets revved it up again after Braxton Berrios' fair catch at the Jets 47. After finding Elijah Moore for 54 yards on third down in the first half, White and Moore teamed up again on third down, this time for 22 yards and a TD for a 24-10 lead as the third quarter aged.
Another short Chicago series and the Jets mounted their fourth TD drive of the game and their third of at least 75 yards. This one was moved along by Knight gaining positive yards rushing and receiving in his Jets and NFL debut, and was topped off by a tackle-breaking, direction-changing 32-yard scoring run by Ty Johnson.
As the Jets and Bears entered the fourth quarter, the Jets were sitting on a 31-10 advantage.
Chicago was in desperation mode as they moved the ball to the Jets 27. But again the Jets defense bent but didn't break, and on a fourth-down make-it-or-break-it heave, Siemian tried to find new arrival Chase Claypool near the goal line. Lamarcus Joyner broke up the pass — and almost picked it off — to stop another series short of the goal line.
The Green & White & Black moved to another long-range Zuerlein field goal after he set a home distance record earlier. This one faded wide right from 53 yards out.
But again the visitors moved close but not close enough. This time they marched to the Jets 10 but Siemian, trying to get the ball to big TE Cole Kmet near the goal line, instead found the sticky mitts of diving MLB C.J. Mosley for the INT. It was Mosley's first pick since his first game as a Jet in 2019, and it started the Jets back up the field, this time not for a score but for a satisfying four-minute drill — actually a 5:04 drive to kneeldowns and a needed Jets victory before they head on the road for next week's third NFC North game of the season against the Vikings at Minneapolis.
White Off to Quick Start
The Jets' opening drive of the game was significant for many reasons. Knight made his Jets and NFL debut with a first-touch 16-yard reception. And that was one of six completions by White on the nine-play, 75-yard, 4:48 possession, with the last connection going to Wilson all alone in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
That was the Jets' first opening-drive touchdown of the season and also their first in their last eight games against the Bears. Their last first-drive TD vs. Chicago: 1994 by RB Johnny Johnson, coming in, yes, the same game that Johnson later unfurled the longest non-scoring rush in NFL history, a 90-yarder.
After pregame rumors that backup QB Siemian wouldn't start due to injuring an oblique muscle in warmups, Siemian did indeed start and led the Bears on a scoring drive of their own but one that the Jets defense stopped on their 4, forcing the visitors from the Midwest to settle for Cairo Santos' 22-yard field goal.
White's second series didn't go as well as the first, a 3-and-out, and Siemian's second series went better than his first. In fact, the drive numbers were identical, nine plays for 71 yards. Except this one produced Siemian's 4-yard strike in the back of the end zone to WR Byron Pringle over the coverage of D.J. Reed on the second play of the second quarter for a 10-7 Chicago lead.
The Green & White got a little head of steam going as Elijah Moore took a catch-and-run from White 42 yards to the Bears 21. From there the Chicago defense rose up and the Jets set up for a 36-yard Zuerlein FG try.
Except Z-man never got his kick off because holder Braden Mann fumbled the snap in the rain, then appeared to fumble again with the Bears recovering and returning toward midfield.
Except ref John Hussey and his crew reviewed the call and saw Mann actually throwing an incomplete pass, not fumbling a second time. So Bears ball but on their 18. From there the Jets defense threw up its first 3-and-out stand of the game.
And White got the offense moving on its second touchdown drive, a four-play, 78-yarder that was crowned on Wilson's 54-yard catch-and-run to the goal line. That made GW the first Jet in franchise history to have two games of two-plus TD grabs in his rookie season.
Another defensive 3-and-out and another offensive scoring drive, this one also of a record nature. The Jets could only get to the Bears 39, but that set up Zuerlein for a 57-yard field goal try, which he nailed. That gave Legatron the longest home-game field goal in franchise history and tied the franchise mark for longest FG in all games, which Chandler Catanzaro set in 2017 and which "Z" equaled in the Browns home earlier this year.