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Chicago holds on

Bears halt Geno Smith’s late rally, win 27-19

Bears tight end Martellus Bennett nabs a touchdown catch against Jets cornerback Darrin Walls in the first quarter. (Associated Press)
Bears tight end Martellus Bennett nabs a touchdown catch against Jets cornerback Darrin Walls in the first quarter. (Associated Press)
Associated Press

The Chicago Bears took advantage of early mistakes by the sloppy New York Jets, then they had to hold their breath before hanging on for a 27-19 victory Monday night in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes to Martellus Bennett and Ryan Mundy returned an interception 45 yards for a score. Cutler finished 23 of 38 passing 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.

Ryan Mundy returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown on the Jets’ second play from scrimmage. After the Bears recovered a fumbled punt a few minutes later, Bennett scored from 7 yards to take a 14-0 lead 5:06 into the game.

“Right now I feel I’m very intelligent on the field,” said Bennett. “The game is getting a lot easier. I know the offense better. I know what Jay wants.”

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 was out of bounds when he caught Smith’s fourth-down throw from the Bears 9.

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,” Jets coach Rex 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.

Harrison hints at comeback

James Harrison is itching to get back to work. The commute could be an easy one.

The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker posted a thinly veiled message via Instagram that hinted at an imminent return to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The team is thin at linebacker after Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones went down with injuries in Sunday night’s 37-19 win against Carolina.

Carolina’s backfield depth depleting

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said fullback Mike Tolbert has a hairline fracture in his left leg and running back Jonathan Stewart has a severely sprained right knee, adding to the team’s mounting injury problems in the backfield.

The Panthers were already dangerously thin in the backfield with running backs DeAngelo Williams and Fozzy Whittaker both held out Sunday night because of hamstring injuries.

Around the league

Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall has a ruptured left Achilles and is done for the season. … Chargers running back Danny Woodhead has a broken lower right leg and will miss the rest of the season. … Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta has undergone surgery to repair a dislocated right hip and is done for the year. … Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL he suffered while celebrating a sack. … The NFL has hired former LPGA board member Dawn Hudson as its chief marketing officer.

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