Moon: Fake punt was turning point for Bears

Moon: Fake punt was turning point for Bears
December 27, 2010, 12:27 am
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Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
6:09 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears came into Sundays game ranked No. 3 in points allowed (17.3) and the Jets were fifth at 18.5 given up per game. The Bears topped those combined numbers by themselves and the Jets nearly did as well.

Was what should have been expected from a game most thought would be a defensive struggle? Absolutely.

It was a defensive struggle, linebacker Lance Briggs said, laughing. Both defenses struggled.

Big arm
The Bears and Denver Broncos are a combined 21-0 when Jay Cutler posts a passer rating of 100 or better, including Sundays 104.2 mark. Cutlers three touchdown passes in the third quarter pushed him to 50 as a Bear, passing George Blanda (48) and into a tie with Jim Harbaugh. He also is the first Bears quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in a quarter since Erik Kramer accomplished that on Sept. 24, 1995 against the St. Louis Rams.

The Jets show a lot of crazy defensive looks, Cutler said. Once weonce I settled down, the offensive line played exceptional all game long, gave us a lot of time and the receivers made some plays for us.

Happy losers

The Jets backed into the AFC playoffs by virtue of the Jacksonville Jaguars losing to the Washington Redskins, occasioning cheers in the losers locker room after Sundays loss.

Im a huge Redskins fan, I can tell you that right now, and I appreciate it, said Jets coach Rex Ryan. We wanted to win to get in without question. We never got it done.

For the record, the Jets are a worthy wild-card team. They reached the AFC Championship game last season as a wild card before losing to the Indianapolis Colts.
Timing, timing

Chris Harris interception of Mark Sanchezs final pass was his fifth pick of the season, a career high and all since the Bears off week to give him six takeaways in the last eight games, seven of them Bears wins. It was also the third fourth-quarter interception of the season for Harris, to go with his game-saver against Buffalo and one on the Bears last defensive play in the first Minnesota game.

46 is a playmaker, Lance Briggs said. Im so glad to have him back on this squad.

What made Sundays particularly impressive was that, while he did not exactly set Sanchez up, he thought right along with and ultimately one step ahead of the Jets quarterback.

I had a feeling that was coming. I wasnt completely sure but when I saw the release of Santonio Holmes, I said, This might be the play. Sanchez was staring down the middle and pump-faked it to the middle, I didnt bite on it and just took off.

Duly noted

Robbie Goulds 37-yard field goal in the first quarter made him the first in franchise history to score 100 points in five consecutive seasons. Center Olin Kreutz tied Walter Payton at third on the Bears all-time list with his 190th game played, 133 of them consecutive starts.

Tommie Harris started his third straight game back at DT. He blew up the Jets first play, a couple yards into the backfield, despite a holding penalty flagged on his blocker.Julius Peppers dropped inside for a third-down rush from defensive tackle, Henry Melton going out to right end. The Jets pass into the end zone was incomplete.

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub packaged Devin Hester as the deep returner on a kickoff, with Danieal Manning and Rashied Davis as up-returners. The Jets took them all out of play with a squib kickoff.

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.