An ugly score, an inability to get in the end zone, a nice job by the offensive line and a blocked punt were the main things to remember as the Bears were drubbed by the Giants in a pre-season game at the New Meadowlands on Monday night. The game ended 41-13, and Jay Cutler finished 12-21 for 171 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
There was both good and bad on the offensive side. The offensive line, one of the biggest concerns of the pre-season, did a much better job keeping Jay Cutler upright. He was sacked once on a play where he held onto the ball instead of throwing it away. Though both J'Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi were flagged for false starts, it was a huge improvement on last week's performance.
On the bad side, the first team had trouble generating offense. Cutler and new receiver Roy Willams failed to connect, as the wideout import from Dallas had a hard time holding onto the ball. The other problem that cropped up is one that Bears fans are all too familiar with: getting in the red zone but not walking away with a touchdown.
In the first quarter, Devin Hester caught a 37-yard pass from Cutler, and then Matt Forte followed up with a 42-yard run. That got the Bears to the end zone, but two incomplete passes forced the Bears to settle for a field goal. A similar pattern happened in the second quarter, but this time it was Earl Bennett with a big gain, but a penalty pushed them back. Even the second unit had trouble, as Marion Barber was unable to make it in the end zone from the one-yard line.
Though the score belies it, the first-string defense was solid. The Giants didn't get a touchdown until Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher were off the field, and they forced two straight three-and-outs to start the game. However, they weren't the flashy, disruptive team that they we became accustomed to last season.
The unit that really looked out-of-sorts was special teams. They had trouble getting any kick or punt returns past the 20-yard line. Rookie punter Spencer Lanning's punt was blocked and returned to the 5-yard line, which the Giants eventually turned into a score.
The good news is that the Bears escaped without any major injury, something that the Giants can't say, as they lost starting cornerback Terrel Thomas for the season with an ACL tear.
Next, the Bears will take their pre-season show to Tennessee for their third pre-season game against the Titans. It's the last game before the Bears have to cut down their roster to 80 players on Aug. 30, so the borderline players will look to make their mark.