Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
By John Mullin
Jay Cutler put the Bears in a hole with an interception for a TD by safety Dwight Lowery in the second quarter. But his touch pass for 24 yards to Matt Forte set up the Bears second TD and his three TD passes in less than nine minutes of the third quarter was decisive. He again controlled the offense and ran his teams record to 21-0 when he posts a passer rating of 100 or better (104.2).
Running backs A
Forte popped a 22-yard TD run in the first quarter and had 44 rushing yards in the quarter. He finished with 113 yards on 19 carries, one for a TD and ran with a burst that delivered yards after first contact. Forte also caught 4 of 7 passes thrown his way, adding 56 yards and giving him 169 all-purpose yards for the game.
Johnny Knox led the receivers with four catches and scored on two of them, one of 40 yards on the play after the Jets ill-conceived fake punt. Knox led all receivers with 92 yards and consistently got the better of supposedly elite Jets cornerbacks. Devin Hester caught a 25-yard TD pass among his three catches for 48 yards. Tight ends were not a factor but contributed significant blocking in pass protection.
Offensive line A
The line played perhaps its best all-around game of the season as far as proficiency in both run and pass blocking. Cutler was sacked twice but both were more coverage sacks than protection breakdowns. RT JMarcus Webb and LT Frank Omiyale were solid sealing edges of a very good Jets run defense and C Olin Kreutz had assignments in order against blitzing and a difficult 3-4 front.
Defensive line B-
The pass rush did not sack Mark Sanchez and got just one hit on him, by Anthony Adams, who was credited with five solo tackles and a forced fumble. Julius Peppers delivered a tackle for a loss and the run defense was respectable against one of the NFLs better power-running teams.
Brian Urlacher was credited with eight tackles and Lance Briggs had three but had one for a loss and deflected a pass.
A difficult group to assess, because Chris Harris interception in the closing minute with the game on the line was decisive. Tim Jennings forced a Santonio Holmes fumble on an end around in the first quarter, recovered by Harris to set up a TD possession. But Sanchez completed all seven of his first-quarter passes, five straight on the Jets TD drive, and threw for 269 yards while completing 24 of 37 throws.
Special teams A
Rashied Davis delivered the turning-point play of the game when he reverted to his cornerback form to break up a pass on a surprise fake punt early in the third quarter. Robbie Gould became the first Bear to score 100 points in five straight seasons when he booted a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter. Brad Maynard had some help from a Jet on his final punt but got the ball 53 yards downfield and out of serious trouble. Hester brought his one punt return back 38 yards and had a kickoff return for 40 yards.
Special-teams coordinator Dave Toubs scouting, film work and preparation for Jets fakes on kicks had the Bears ready for their strange fake punt early in the third quarter. The offense was well prepared to exploit single-coverage situations when and where they occurred. The defense was beaten too frequently but as able to play under control throughout and not break down even after the second-quarter blitz. Lovie Smith had his team ready to play a game that mattered in the post-season scenarios.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.