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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Enjoying his return to the Meadowlands, Martellus Bennett caught two touchdown passes in helping the Chicago Bears to a 24-16 lead over the New York Jets through three quarters Monday night.
Bennett, who spent the 2012 season with the other MetLife Stadium tenant, the Giants, had scoring receptions of 7 and 13 yards. He had four catches for 45 yards through three periods.
Two early turnovers staked the Bears to 14 points.
Things began miserably for the Jets when Geno Smith didn't see Ryan Mundy lurking in the flat on a screen pass to Chris Johnson. Mundy had nothing but clear field ahead of him to make it 7-0 only 32 seconds in. It was the sixth-year veteran's third career interception, who hurt his left arm and shoulder early in the third quarter.
New York remained charitable as rookie Jalen Saunders dropped a punt at his 40 and it was recovered by Ahmad Dixon. One play later, Jay Cutler threw deep down the right sideline to Alshon Jeffery and cornerback Darrin Walls was flagged for interference.
From the 7, Cutler, given plenty of time, found Bennett in the back of the end zone to make it 14-0.
Mundy and Bennett had spent a portion of their careers playing for the Giants.
Chicago also lost star receiver Brandon Marshall (right ankle) and fullback Tony Fiammetta (hamstring) in the second quarter. Marshall returned, Fiammetta was done for the night, and the Bears also saw safety Chris Conte (left shoulder) depart in the third period.
Nick Folk's 43-yard field goal brought the Jets within 11 points and capped a 55-yard drive during which Chris Ivory had a 23-yard reception and Eric Decker a 19-yarder.
But Chicago answered with a 15-play, 79-yard drive helped by cornerback Antonio Allen's holding penalty on a third-down incompletion. Robbie Gould made a 24-yard field goal for a 17-3 lead just 66 seconds into the second quarter.
The Jets stalled in the red zone again on their next series after a 43-yard completion to rookie tight end Jace Amaro got them going. Folk was perfect from 28 yards.
New York got closer with a 77-yard drive on which Jeremy Kerley accounted for 51. He caught two passes for 16 yards, one on third down, and got free over the middle on a 19-yard throw from Smith to make it 17-13.
A video review reversed a call late in the half on which the Jets might have taken the lead. Cutler was sacked by David Harris and lost the ball, but was declared down by contact. A review showed Cutler had fumbled, but Demario Davis' return to the end zone was negated because the whistle had blown.
The Jets then went three-and-out.
They also lost Decker in the third quarter with a hamstring problem. But they hung in thanks to Folk's 22-yard field goal with 27 seconds remaining in the third period, although Smith was intercepted in the end zone earlier in the quarter.
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