Chicago (8-1) faced the New York Giants last weekend at Giants Stadium. Coach Lovie Smith has the positive momentum of already having won there, but admits there is still an unknown of whether it is an advantage.
“We know how to win there; we know that for a fact,” coach Lovie Smith said. “But I don’t know what advantage it will be for us.”
Quarterback Rex Grossman added: “It’s kind of an advantage,” he told the Jets’ website. “If you’re going to have two road games back-to-back, you might as well have them in the same stadium.”
The Bears overcame a miserable start, erasing a 10-point first-half deficit en route to a 38-20 win. Grossman, who has struggled on the road, finished 18-of-30 for 246 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while Devin Hester returned a missed field goal 108 yards in the fourth quarter to seal the win and give the Bears a two-game lead over the Giants for the best record in the NFC.
“When I caught the ball, I just slowed it down. I wanted to see what they were doing. The majority of them were walking off the field,” Hester said of his NFL record-tying return.
“The way guys went down the field and crushed people, I was like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t know that happened,”’ Hester said. “I give all the credit to my teammates. They’re the guys who should be in front of the cameras right now.”
The Bears were pleased to see Grossman rebound from his terrible performance against Miami, which forced him into four turnovers and sacked him three times. Grossman had only two TD passes in his previous three road games, and Jets defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson knows he and his teammates will have to harrass Grossman.
“You can’t let Grossman get comfortable,” Robertson said. “He’s a great player, man, and great players do great things and make great plays.”
The Bears would like to have wide receiver Bernard Berrian back after he missed the Giants game due to a rib injury. Smith told newyorkjets. com that Berrian, one of Chicago’s biggest playmakers, was looking better and had practiced, but was questionable for this weekend.
If he’s not ready, Mushin Muhammad may have to deliver another big game after totaling seven receptions for a season-high 123 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday’s win.
“Moose had a great game,” Grossman said. “He made good plays and ran great routes and really stepped it up. It was great to see him come out there and have the kind of game he had.”
While Grossman and the offense regrouped, the Bears defense—specifically against the run—is still struggling. The Bears have given up 100-plus rushing yards in the last three games—including 150 to the Giants—after allowing opponents to reach 100 just once in the team’s first six games.
“We played the run well at times, but we had those big breakouts,” Smith said.
Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher had a strong game despite playing through a sprained big toe, totaling eight tackles.
“Before the game it was in the back of my mind,” Urlacher said, “but it feels good and I was able to run around and do somethings out there.”
The Jets (5-4) are less than excited to see Urlacher returning to form. Quarterback Chad Pennington said it will be critical for the team to find a way to slow down Chicago’s defense if they want to have a chance.
“Normally, when you look at a defense, you look at it from a defensive perspective,” he said. “But they actually have an offensive mentality in that they believe they can score points and that they believe they can cause a lot of opportunities for their offense.”
New York is trying to carry the momentum from a 17-14 win at division rival New England last week. Pennington was 22-of-33 for 168 yards and a touchdown, while Kevan Barlow had 75 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries to help the team rebound from a tough loss to the Cleveland Browns prior to its bye week.
Pennington ran an efficent offense, opting for short, accurate passes on a rain-soaked field.
“We knew we had to have precise execution and, in the meantime, play a great defense,” because of the muddy field and slippery ball, said Pennington, who missed 22 games over the previous three years with shoulder and wrist problems.
The Jets have won three of their last four and their latest win may have put them back in the playoff hunt. New York trails New England by one game in the AFC East, but the team is trying not the think about a possible postseason appearance.
“It is still way too early; we have seven games left,” veteran guard Pete Kendall said. “There are a lot of things beyond our control at this point. If we needed somebody to grab our attention, we certainly got it. The Chicago Bears are 8-1, they may very well be the best team in football.”
This is the first time the teams have met since a 20-13 win at Soldier Field in 2002. The Bears last win against the Jets at Giants Stadium came in 1994.
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