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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Jets were upset with their weak work in scoring range — and with what they claimed was a lack of execution by the officials on a critical second-quarter play Monday night.
New York was a woeful 1 for 6 getting touchdowns in the red zone in a 27-19 loss to the Chicago Bears. The Jets (1-2) got four field goals from Nick Folk, but sloppiness by quarterback Geno Smith was particularly damaging.
Not only did Smith throw a pick on a screen pass on the second play from scrimmage that Ryan Mundy turned into a 45-yard touchdown return, he later forced a throw from Chicago's 18. Trying to hit a well-covered David Nelson in the end zone, instead Smith found rookie Kyle Fuller, who got his third interception in two weeks.
"I put ourselves in a hole with the interception for a touchdown," Smith admitted. "We definitely chipped away and had a chance to win at the end.
"We have got to figure that out right now. We never expect to go 1 for 6 (in the red zone) and it starts with me. It is something that happens that doesn't allow us to score seven points. We've got to find a way to score."
Coach Rex Ryan didn't lay too much blame on his second-year quarterback, noting how far Smith has progressed from last season. But there were some steps backward against the Bears.
"Did he make a mistake?" Ryan said. "He wasn't perfect, absolutely. Their quarterback wasn't perfect. The difference was they got the ball in the end zone."
Also part of the difference was a key call near the end of the first half.
Cutler was sacked by David Harris and lost the ball, but was declared down by contact. A video 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.
"What else can you do?" Harris said. "It seems like we're playing against two teams out there sometimes, but you've got to keep playing and live to play the next down."
The Bears took advantage of the early mistakes by the sloppy Jets. Then they had to hold their breath before hanging on.
Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes to Martellus Bennett and finished 23 of 38 for 225 yards. 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.
The Jets had one last opportunity to tie, getting into Bears territory on Smith's 51-yard pass to Greg Salas. But Jeremy Kerley was out of bounds when he caught Smith's desperation fourth-down heave from the Bears 9.
Cutler took a knee three times to seal the victory for the Bears (2-1).
Smith was 26 of 43 for 316 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions — and nearly had a few others. 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," Ryan said.
The Jets lost wide receiver Eric Decker in the first half to a hamstring injury after he was questionable for the game with tightness in the hamstring. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson hurt his knee in the fourth quarter but Ryan didn't think it was serious.
The Bears went up 14-0 just over 5 minutes into the game.
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 untouched into the end zone.
It was the sixth-year veteran's third career interception, and first score.
After the Jets stopped the Bears on their first offensive series, rookie Jalen Saunders dropped Patrick O'Donnell's punt at his 40 and it was recovered by 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.
The Jets got on the scoreboard on their next possession with Folk's 43-yard field goal. Chicago answered with a 15-play, 79-yard drive helped by cornerback Antonio Allen's holding penalty on a third-down incompletion by Cutler. Gould's 24-yard field goal gave the Bears a 17-3 lead 66 seconds into the second quarter.
The Jets got their next series off to a good start with a 43-yard completion to rookie tight end Jace Amaro, but they stalled in the red zone again, settling for a 28-yard field goal.
New York got closer with a 77-yard drive on which Kerley accounted for 51 — including a 19-yard touchdown that cut the deficit 17-13.
Chicago marched 80 yards on six plays to open the second half, capping the drive with Bennett's 13-yard catch to make it 24-13.
Folk's 22-yard field goal late in the third quarter made it 24-16. His 42-yarder with 9:52 remaining got the Jets within five points.
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