EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears needed to claw back from a big deficit last week.
On Monday night, they had to hang on against the New York Jets.
"It was quite a game," Bears coach Marc Trestman said after a 27-19 victory that wasn't sealed until the final moments.
Even after spotting the Bears a 14-0 lead with early mistakes, the Jets had one last opportunity to tie, getting into Bears territory on Geno Smith's 51-yard pass to Greg Salas. But Jeremy Kerley came down out of bounds in the back of the end zone after making a leaping grab of Smith's desperation fourth-down heave from the Bears 9.
Cutler then took a knee three times to seal the victory for the Bears (2-1).
"We just have to ride this momentum," Cutler said.
Last weekend, the Bears rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the 49ers in Green Bay. They never trailed in this one, but they had a hard time putting away the Jets (1-2).
"It's not so much that teams are beating us," Jets linebacker Demario Davis said. "We're beating ourselves, and you can't do that in this league."
New York was coming off a disappointing 31-24 loss at Green Bay in which it blew an 18-point lead. Smith was 26 of 43 for 316 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions — and nearly had a few others in this one. Kerley finished with seven catches for 81 yards, and almost came up with a diving grab off a tipped pass in the end zone on the final drive.
"There were some plays you wish you could have back," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
The Jets also scored just one touchdown in six trips into the red zone.
Cutler threw two touchdown passes to Martellus Bennett and Ryan Mundy returned an interception 45 yards for a score. Cutler finished 23 of 38 for 225 yards and Alshon Jeffery caught eight passes for 105 yards for the Bears, who got a 45-yard field goal from Robbie Gould to make it an eight-point game with 3:10 remaining.
Here are some other things to know from the Bears' victory over the Jets:
QUICK START: The Bears wasted no time getting on the scoreboard.
On New York's second play from scrimmage, Smith didn't see Mundy lurking in the flat as he floated a screen pass to Chris Johnson. Mundy stepped in front of the toss and ran it back for a touchdown.
After the Jets stopped the Bears on three plays on their first offensive series, rookie Jalen Saunders dropped Patrick O'Donnell's punt at his 40 and it was recovered by the Bears' Ahmad Dixon. Cutler threw deep down the right sideline to Jeffery one play later, and cornerback Darrin Walls was called for pass interference to put the ball at the Jets 7.
Three plays later, Cutler rolled right and found Bennett in the back of the end zone to make it 14-0 — and get the MetLife Stadium crowd booing.
GENO WATCH: The calls for Michael Vick might start to intensify — even though it's just three games into the season.
Smith passed for the second-most yards of his career, but he's got five turnovers in three games.
"I've got to do a better job to give us a chance to win games," Smith said.
UNDERRATED BENNETT?: While most of the attention is on Chicago's big wide receivers in Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, Bennett has also become a major factor in the Bears' offense.
He leads the team with 20 catches and is tied with Marshall with four TDs — and came in with a little extra motivation.
"I felt a little disrespected," Bennett said, adding that he watched a video in which Ryan praised the Bears receivers and referred to him simply as "a big dude."
INJURIES: The Jets lost wide receiver Eric Decker in the first half to a hamstring injury; he was questionable for the game with tightness in the hamstring. Decker said he pulled himself out when he couldn't get it loosened up.
Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson also left with an injured right knee, but Ryan didn't think it was serious.
Bears fullback Tony Fiammetta injured a hamstring and safety Chris Conte hurt his left shoulder. Neither returned. Marshall left in the second quarter after injuring his right ankle, but returned in the second half.
UPSET WITH REFS: After an ill-timed timeout call last week, the Jets took issue with two more incidents involving referees.
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 Davis' return to the end zone was negated because the whistle had blown.
"It could've been a game-changing play, but the referee blew the whistle," Harris said. "What can you do? What else is new? It seems like we're playing against two teams out there sometimes."
The Jets were also unhappy with a pass interference call on Darrin Walls that helped set up the Bears' second touchdown.
"I thought I had perfect coverage," Walls said. "If anything, I thought it was offensive pass interference."
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