It wasn't pretty, but the Chicago Bears' defense came up big when it needed to, as they intercepted Eli Manning three times as they knocked off the New York Giants by a 27-21 score on Thursday night at Soldier Field.
Jay Cutler threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the game, both of which were thrown to Brandon Marshall in a winning effort. Tim Jennings also had two interceptions in the game for the Bears, who racked up three turnovers a week after they didn't force any against the New Orleans Saints.
The game started out really rough for Eli Manning, who had thrown 12 interceptions in the first four games of the season. On just the third play of the game, Zach Bowman jumped a route and intercepted a pass and brought it down deep into Giants territory. Unfortunately for the Bears, they ended up with zero points on the ensuing drive, as they attempted to go for it on fourth down instead of opting for the easy field goal, and Marshall dropped the easy pass near the first down marker.
On the Giants’ next drive, Manning turned the ball over again, this time throwing an interception after Ruben Randle ran the wrong route. Tim Jennings was the beneficiary of the mistake, and returned the ball 48 yards to give the Bears a 7-0 lead.
That lead didn’t last for long though, as the Giants pounded the ball up the field using Brandon Jacobs as a battering ram. He ran for several big runs on the drive, and it culminated with him diving into the end zone to tie the game at 7-7. After that drive, the Giants already had 56 yards on the ground, matching their average total per game coming into the contest.
The Bears responded with a quality drive of their own, however, with Cutler and Marshall hooking up a few times for first downs. Near the goal line, Marshall shed a linebacker who came over in coverage, and the Giants’ safeties didn’t come over to help in the second layer, and he caught an easy pass for a touchdown to give the Bears back a 14-7 lead.
Once again though, the Bears’ poor tackling came back to haunt them on the next New York drive. Isaiah Frey missed a tackle that could have stopped the Giants on third down, and on the next play, Bowman missed Hakeem Nicks to allow yet another first down. Finally, Major Wright was slow to come over the top in coverage to help out Jennings, and Randle snared a touchdown catch to tie the game at 14-14, eliciting screams from defensive backs coach Jon Hoke directed at his players.
The Bears offense once again responded though, with Cutler finding Marshall on a first and goal play in the corner of the end zone to give the Bears a 21-14 lead. The ensuing kickoff did see another poor play, with Robbie Gould attempting a squib kick and the Giants getting a great return on the play. The Bears did get the ball back, but were unable to get back into the end zone, and Gould kicked a late field goal to give the Bears a 24-14 lead.
On the Bears’ first drive of the third quarter, they were marching down the field when Roberto Garza took a bad holding penalty at midfield to push them back out of field goal range. Cutler did manage to complete a pass to Martellus Bennett that got them a bit closer, and Gould nailed his 12th consecutive kick from 50 yards or more to give the Bears a 27-14 lead. The kick tied the NFL record for most consecutive kicks made from that yardage, tying him with Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh.
The Giants weren’t done yet though, as Jacobs picked up his second touchdown of the night to pull the Giants back to within six points. That drive was punctuated by a boneheaded play by Randle, who slammed the ball into the ground after slipping on an attempted curl route. Fortunately for him, the officials ruled that he had given himself up on the play, similar to the way that a quarterback can slide to avoid contact, and the Giants took advantage of a Jennings pass interference penalty to draw the game closer.
Both teams traded unsuccessful drives as the fourth quarter went on, and the Giants took over late in the frame deep in their territory. Jacobs and Nicks both picked up first downs for New York as the clock dwindled, but Jennings nearly ended the game with an interception on yet another underthrown ball, but it barely tipped off of his fingertips to keep the Giants alive. Da'rel Scott responded on the very next play on a draw play up the middle, picking up another first down for the Giants.
Two plays later though, Manning overthrew Brandon Myers, who tipped the ball and it was picked off again by Jennings, and that was the nail in the coffin for the Giants.
The Bears now have 10 days off before their next game, a road date with the Washington Redskins in the nation's capital on October 20th.