The Jets handled the Bears in a White Out on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Quarterback Mike White, making his first start of the season, played a nearly spotless game and threw for three touchdowns in a 31-10 victory over a hapless Chicago team.
Coach Robert Saleh’s move from Zach Wilson to White at quarterback paid immediate dividends. White was decisive and efficient with the football and made some great decisions to lead the Jets to their most complete offensive performance of the season.
White finished 22 of 28 for 315 yards and three touchdowns, completing passes to 10 different receivers. The Jets gained a season-high 467 total yards, a week after only gaining 103 against the Patriots.
All Wilson could do was watch from the bench on a rainy day in East Rutherford as his backup played better than he has all season and listen as the Jets fans chanted “Mike White” throughout the game.
The Jets improved to 7-4 and remain in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt. The Bears fell to 3-9.
The Jets opened the game with a nine-play, 75-yard drive on which White went 6 of 7 for 69 yards. He finished it off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Garrett Wilson, the first of two scores for Wilson in the game.
When the schedule came out in the spring, this game looked like it would be a matchup of two 2021 first-round quarterbacks, but Wilson was benched and Bears quarterback Justin Fields missed the game with a left shoulder injury.
There was some pregame intrigue as to who would start in Fields’ place. The expectation was that Trevor Siemian would start, but then there were reports that he injured his oblique during the pregame warm-ups and Nathan Peterman would start. Both quarterbacks warmed up just before the game and Siemian ended up starting.
The Bears had some success early. Siemian completed passes of 26, 33 and 31 yards in the first quarter and the Jets had some poor coverage and missed tackles. The Bears grabbed a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter when Siemian threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Byron Pringle, who elevated over D.J. Reed to haul it.
The Jets had some sloppiness early, including a botched hold by Braden Mann on a field-goal attempt that kept the Bears in the lead.
White had one bad pass that should have been intercepted by Bears safety Eddie Jackson, but went through his hands. But that was White’s only big mistake.
He found Wilson for a 54-yard touchdown with 4:57 left in the first half to put the Jets up 14-10. White read the pass rush and found Wilson in the middle of the field. Wilson made a beautiful move to beat Kindle Vildor and raced to the end zone for his second touchdown.
Greg Zuerlein hit a 57-yard field goal, tying the franchise record, just before halftime to give the Jets 17-10 lead going into the locker room.
Defensive end John Franklin-Myers got things started in the second half with a sack of Siemian and the Jets held the Bears to a three-and-out to start. The defense shut out the Bears in the second half.
The offense broke the game open in the third quarter. White found Elijah Moore for a 22-yard touchdown with 6:35 left to put the Jets up 24-10. It was Moore’s first touchdown catch of the season. Moore, who requested a trade last month, also had a 42-yard catch, showing better chemistry with White than he did with Zach Wilson.
Ty Johnson added another touchdown, this one a 32-yard run that gave the Jets a commanding 31-10 lead.
The Jets went with a different look at running back, hoping to jump-start their running game. Rookie Zonovan Knight was active for the first time and James Robinson was inactive. Michael Carter exited the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury, giving Johnson and Knight most of the carries in the second half.