The Giants improved to 7-3 on Sunday with a wind-swept 22-16 victory over the 2-8 Chicago Bears but it didn’t come without the mandatory drama. They had to come from a 16-9 halftime deficit to overcome a Bears team that come into the game without several key players and then lost several more during the game.
Once again, the defense bailed the offense out, shutting out the Bears in the second half while the offense managed to mount a comeback. It was another case of the Giants playing down to an opponent, something they won’t get away with for much longer as their schedule gets tougher after next week’s trip to Cleveland.
For some reason, the Giants did not come out ready to play and the Bears, who were just god awful in their 36-10 loss to Tampa Bay last week, were. It took them until halftime to get things righted and even then, the offense did only what was required to win the game.
“Tale of the two halves today,” head coach Ben McAdoo said after the game. “I’m proud of the way the guys responded at halftime. 13-0 in the second half. Came out with the fire burning. We still have a lot of work to do, we realize that, and we look forward to doing it.”
What exactly was said at halftime to stoke the fires?
“Just stay the course,” McAdoo said. “Live and learn from the first half, flush the first half, and get back out there and play your tail off in the second half and we’ll like where we’ll be at the end of the ballgame.”
The course wasn’t working in the first half. The Bears scored two touchdowns and kicked a field goal on their first three possessions. The Giants would force punts on six of the last eight drives. Chicago missed a FG on one and the Giants intercepted QB Jay Cutler on the final drive.
The Giants scored touchdowns on the first two drives of the second half, but the offense went back into a shell after that. They punted on the next five drives. The defense, as usual, preserved the win, the Giants’ seventh of the season and seventh by seven points or less. They have won their seven games by a total of 27 points.
They are walking a dangerous line this season. Sure, last year they would have lost many of these games, but the fact they still can’t close out teams is troubling. With winning teams on their schedule the final five weeks in Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, the Giants have to figure out how to play a complete game.
“7-3, we’ll take it,” said QB Eli Manning after the game. “The NFC East is tough. Obviously we know we’re behind Dallas still and Washington and Philly are playing good football and have a lot of wins. We can’t get comfortable. We’ve got to keep getting better so there’s still lots of room for improvement. We’ve got to score more points offensively but no turnovers today, so that’s a positive. It wasn’t the most ideal conditions to have a big day offensively, but we ran the ball over 100 yards, threw the ball efficiently enough, and had a nice game plan. Guys played smart and played good football.”
His glass is half full, as usual. With a defense that can turn the screws on opponents at will, he has every right to be optimistic.