CHICAGO - Never mind the recent drama. Rex Ryan and the Jets are headed back to the playoffs, and they're not complaining even if they got in with a loss.
Jay Cutler threw three touchdown passes, Matt Forte ran for 113 yards, and the Chicago Bears beat New York, 38-34, on Sunday, sending the Jets to their third loss in four games. Chris Harris intercepted Mark Sanchez on a pass intended for Santonio Holmes with about a minute left to end New York's comeback bid, but the Jets' season won't be ending next week.
The Jets (10-5) clinched their second straight postseason trip under Ryan when Jacksonville lost, 20-17, in overtime to Washington. There was a loud roar from the coaches' locker room when the Jaguars lost, and Ryan stopped himself as he addressed the media.
"By the way, I think we're in the playoffs," he said. "Not the way I wanted it, but I'll take it."
LaDainian Tomlinson said Graham Gano's winning field goal for the Redskins was "like Christmas."
They'll have an extra night in Chicago to savor it after a snowstorm delayed their return to New York, and the Bears (11-4) might let this one soak in a bit, too.
They won for the seventh time in eight games after blowing an early 10-point lead and are in good position to lock up a bye. The Bears needed a win, coupled with a loss by Philadelphia and a loss or tie by the Giants. The Eagles won't play until Tuesday after their game against Minnesota got pushed back by snow.
Cutler completed 13 of 25 passes for 215 yards, with Johnny Knox catching four for 92 with two touchdowns, the second coming when he beat Antonio Cromartie on a 26-yarder that broke a 31-31 tie in the third quarter. He also caught a 40-yarder early in the third after a failed fake punt by New York.
"We came into it knowing we were going to have to take a few shots, go vertical on them," Cutler said. "We knew with our speed it would be hard for them to keep up."
Forte had a big game and, assuming those numbers stand, is the first opponent to run for 100 or more yards against the Jets this season. Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall had a yard deducted after initially being credited with 100 last week.
Sanchez seemed to be just fine after playing most of last week's win over Pittsburgh with a shoulder injury. He threw for 269 yards and a touchdown, completing 24 of 37 passes after a sizzling start, but his interception sealed the win for Chicago and capped another wild week for New York that included more headline-grabbing distractions.
"To lose the game and I still make the playoffs, that's the best news you can ever have after a loss," said Sanchez, who will likely sit out next week's game against Buffalo.
Sanchez completed 13 of 15 passes for 156 yards in the first half, and the Jets led 24-17, but the momentum turned in a big way after halftime.
A fake punt by New York on the opening drive of the third quarter failed as Sanchez's pass to Brad Smith fell incomplete and things only got worse from there.
Bears 38, Jets 34
N.Y. Jets 0 24 7 3 – 34
Chicago 10 7 21 0 – 38
Chi–FG Gould 37, 9:40.
Chi–Forte 22 run (Gould kick), 4:54.
NYJ–Greene 3 run (Folk kick), 14:56.
NYJ–Lowery 20 interception return (Folk kick), 13:52.
NYJ–Tomlinson 3 run (Folk kick), 5:44.
Chi–Cutler 2 run (Gould kick), 2:44.
NYJ–FG Folk 26,: 12.
Chi–Knox 40 pass from Cutler (Gould kick), 13:20.
Chi–Hester 25 pass from Cutler (Gould kick), 10:29.
NYJ–Holmes 23 pass from Sanchez (Folk kick), 8:36.
Chi–Knox 26 pass from Cutler (Gould kick), 6:06.
NYJ–FG Folk 34, 14:52.
First downs 24 16
Total Net Yards 393 322
Rushes-yards 30-124 27-120
Passing 269 202
Punt Returns 3-8 1-38
Kickoff Returns 6-126 7-114
Interceptions Ret. 1-20 1-0
Comp-Att-Int 24-38-1 13-25-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 2-13
Punts 4-40.3 4-44.0
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 3-34 6-31
Time of Possession 33:51 26:09
Rushing: N.Y. Jets, Greene 12-70, Tomlinson 13-28, B. Smith 2-18, Richardson 2-5, Holmes 1-3. Chicago, Forte 19-113, Taylor 4-4, Cutler 4-3.
Passing: N.Y. Jets, Sanchez 24-37-1-269, B. Smith 0-1-0-0. Chicago, Cutler 13-25-1-215.
Receiving: N.Y. Jets, Keller 7-79, Edwards 6-78, Holmes 4-69, Greene 2-14, Tomlinson 2-14, Cotchery 2-8, Richardson 1-7. Chicago, Knox 4-92, Forte 4-56, Hester 3-48, Bennett 1-14, Olsen 1-5.
Missed Field Goals: Chicago, Gould 35 (WR).