Many have commented on it, over the years and during the week before the Jets traveled to the Windy City this weekend. Chicago and Soldier Field just epitomizes tradition and old-time football.
Jets-Bears this afternoon was a gritty affair underneath a dark sky alongside slate-gray Lake Michigan. Unfortunately it was a lot grittier for the Green & White. The injuries and new players in their wideout corps, a fired-up Chicago defense playing without injured LB Khalil Mack, and a Mitch Trubisky-led offense proved too much to overcome in the Jets' 24-10 loss to the Bears.
It was the Jets' second straight loss, both to NFC North foes, as they slipped to 3-5 with another road game, at AFC East foe Miami, ahead next Sunday.
Sam Darnold, not having Robby Anderson (ankle) and Quincy Enunwa (ankle) to throw to, struggled in completing 14 of 29 passes for 153 yards, although he didn't turn the ball over. Coupled with a 57-yard rushing game, the Jets could rack up only 207 yards and 12 first downs. They did get to within a touchdown at 17-10 on a Darnold-to-Chris Hendon touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter but could close the gap no closer.
Here are eight more takeaways as the Jets-Bears game unfolded:
1. Early-Drive Jitters
Windy City nerves? The Jets offense opened the game with a pair of three-and-out series. The Bears, meanwhile, moved 43 yards on their first drive, but LB Brandon Copeland's third-down shoestring sack tackle of Mitch Trubisky forced the hosts to settle for a 40-yard Cody Parkey FG ... and Parkey, or the wind, pushed it wide right.
2. Out of the Bears' Backfield
But the Bears' second drive worked like a charm, especially when Trubisky tossed a pass to RB Tarik Cohen out of the backfield against a blitz — and no Jets defender was in the area. Cohen sped 70 yards down the left side untouched for the game's opening score with 5:24 left in the opening frame.
3. One Yard at a Time
The Jets seemed determined to put points on the board on their third drive. To do that, they had to convert fourth-and-1 near midfield, which rookie RB Trenton Cannon did, then third-and-1, which Darnold did. The rookie QB couldn't move the chains on a longer third-down scramble but Jason Myers came on for the 42-yard field goal to cut the visitors' deficit to 7-3. The drive was the longest in both plays (14) and time (8:25) of Darnold's short career at the offensive controls.
4. Tough Sledding
Despite that long field goal drive, yards were hard to come by for the Green & White. Drive 4 picked up 20 yards, then Nos. 5 and 6 were a three-and-outs. Keeping the Jets in the game was their defense. Entering the game, the D was fifth in the NFL allowing a 33.0% conversion rate and held Trubisky and the Bears to 1-for-5 in the first half. More of that, plus a takeaway. was going to be needed to help the offense wrest the lead away from the hosts. But that was not to be.
5. Tru on the Move
Trubisky, who came into the game with a 7.9 yards/carry average that was tops among NFL quarterbacks, turned it on in the third quarter and that led to a big score. He scrambled out of a crowded pocket for 10 yards on third-and-10, then added 9 more to make it second-and-1 at the Jets 15 — creating the first red zone opportunity for either team on the day. Finally on third-and-goal from the 4, Tru crowned the drive with a dart to rookie WR Anthony Miller in the back of the end zone past the defense of CB Buster Skrine for a 14-3 lead.
6. The Field Tilts Some More
After the Jets' fourth consecutive three-and-out and a 19-yard net punt after Lachlan Edwards' 39-yard kick and Cohen's 20-yard return, the Bears were at midfield and starting to win the field position battle. They probed down to the 23, from where Trubisky kept for 6 yards to four-and-1, then for the last yard for a first down at the 22. The facing another fourth-and-1, this at the 14, Chicago took the decision into the fourth quarter, then sent Parkey on for a 32-yard FG, which he drove through for a 17-3 lead.
7. Herndon to the Rescue
Darnold was having trouble finding open receivers, until the Jets' first series of the final frame. From the Jets 25, the rookie QB found rookie WR Deontay Burnett for 13 yards, then for the first "chunk play" of the game, a 29-yarder to the Bears 18. Two plays later, it was another rookie, Herndon, stepping up for the 16-yard TD strike from Darnold, his third TD catch in three games. And suddenly the Jets were in a one-score game at 17-10 with 11:10 to play.
8. Cool Running
Other than Trubisky, neither team had much of a ground game — until Chicago responded to the Herndon TD with an eight-play, 79-yard drive of its own. RB Jordan Howard took the ball (away) from his QB for a 24-yard gain to the Jets 6, then for the 2-yard plow up the middle for a very big touchdown to give the home team a 24-10 lead with 7:08 to play. The Jets just couldn't get close to make it a one-score game again.