Kudos to ...
Russell Shepard — The veteran wide receiver/special teamer made the 49-yard touchdown throw by Odell Beckham Jr. possible by freelancing his way into being wide open for what turned out to be the longest reception of his career.
Shepard also made a brilliant special teams play, tip-toeing the goal line to help down a fourth-punt at the Chicago 2-yard line. That led to a Bears turnover and three much-needed points for the Giants.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s passing skills — His 49-yard touchdown pass to Shepard was an improvised, wrong-footed throw that came after he appeared to have committed to running with the ball. I kiddingly asked backup — yes, backup — quarterback Kyle Lauletta if he could make that throw.
“That was amazing. I told him when he came off, I was like ‘dude you threw that with the wrong foot forward.’ I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before but it was amazing. It went like 50 yards. I couldn’t believe it,” Lauletta said.
Props, too, to Beckham for laying his heart on the line at halftime and helping to inspire his teammates after a poor offensive performance in the first half.
Saquon Barkley — Another game, another 100+ yard performance from Barkley. This time the fantastic rookie had 125 yards rushing on 24 carries, and added a pedestrian 21 receiving yards for good measure. That’s 11 times in 12 games he has gone over 100 yards in total offense.
They were overshadowed by Beckham’s touchdown throw and Aldrick Rosas’s continued excellence this season, but Barkley made two of the game’s biggest offensive plays for the Giants.
On a third-and-23 with 17 seconds left in the first half the Giants gave Barkley the ball on what coach Pat Shurmur admitted was “kind of a give-up call.” Only, Barkley didn’t give up. He took the ball 22 yards to Chicago’s 48-yard line to set up fourth-and-1. The Giants went for it, Eli Manning completed a 9-yard out to Rhett Ellison, who got out of bounds with :01 left in the half. That allowed Rosas to give the Giants three big, and unexpected, points going into the locker room.
Barkley also had a 29-yard run to kick start the Giants’ game-winning drive in overtime.
There was also this super-human highlight:
Aldrick Rosas — A career-long — and franchise record — 57-yard field goal. A game-winning 44-yard field goal in overtime. A 37-yard field goal with 1:49 to play that gave the Giants a 10-point lead — that they managed to fritter away. Rosas is now 26-of-27 this season. Go vote for him to make the Pro Bowl.
Alec Ogletree — Ogletree was jokingly asked after the game if he was going to go sit with the receivers during meetings this week. After his two-interception game, including his second Pick 6 in three games and a leaping one-handed Beckham-esque grab, you wonder if maybe he should be playing tight end.
“I told Coach [Shurmur] that if I get five [interceptions], he has to at least get one play (for me) on offense at some point during the season,” said Ogletree, who now has four. “Hopefully I can get one more and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
B.J. Hill — Three sacks for the rookie defensive tackle, bringing his season total to a team-leading five. One of those sacks was Hill simply downing a prone Chase Daniel after the Chicago quarterback recovered one of his four fumbles, but that’s still a good day’s work for the impressive third-round pick.
Janoris Jenkins — As the Giants stumbled to a 1-7 start, chatter about his future with the Giants swirled around and Jenkins didn’t always play to his ability it was fair to wonder if he was fully invested in the 2018 Giants. No question about that on Sunday. Jenkins had an excellent game with three pass breakups, including the game-ending play when he swatted away a desperation deep ball to secure the victory for the Giants.
Grant Haley — This is a young player who has seized an opportunity. In his sixth game, the undrafted free agent from Penn State was rock solid in coverage, had eight tackles including two for loss and played 91 percent of the defensive snaps.
Wet Willies to ...
Scott Simonson — Three holding penalties, what colleague Dan Duggan called “the holding hat trick,” will land you in this category.
Mario Edwards — The defensive lineman made only two noteworthy plays in the game. They came on back-to-back Chicago possessions and neither was good. First, he incurred a second quarter unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit on Daniel. That gave the Bears a first down at the Giants’ 38-yard line when they should have been punting. On the next series, Edwards committed a hands to the face penalty that negated yet another third down stop. Chicago took advantage by driving for a touchdown.
That play call at the Chicago 30-yard line with 3:25 to go — Why, why why did the Giants dial up a pass play facing third-and-8 from the Bears’ 30-yard line with a 24-17 lead and 3:25 to play? All the Giants needed there was a field goal to take a two-score lead and they were easily within Rosas’s range. Instead, a 9-yard sack and a punt that gave the Bears life. Pat Shurmur does a lot of positive things as Giants’ head coach. His players believe in him, they play hard and they seem to be beginning to feel like they are going in a good direction. There are, however, a lot of head-scratching game management decisions. Like this one.
Curtis Riley — This ... was ... bad. I think my 20-month grandson might be able to make this catch. This is funny now, but at the time it wasn’t funny at all. It ended up costing the Giants a touchdown.
There was also this. Tarik Cohen was somehow ruled down by contact, a huge break for the Giants.
Riley was also complicit in the Giants’ failure to recover an onside kick with 1:13 to play and the Giants clinging to a 7-point lead as he failed to block the Chicago player who ultimately recovered the ball.
Speaking of that onside kick ...
Yours truly was among those who criticized Beckham’s effort when he and the Giants failed to recover the Chicago onside kick late in the fourth quarter.
Odell Beckham looked like he wanted no part of diving into the scrum on that onside kick.— Big Blue View (@bigblueview) December 2, 2018
Rightly or wrongly, it certainly looks in the GIF above like Beckham was hesitant to throw himself into the scrum for the ball.
Beckham was not happy after the game when questioned — not by me — about whether he had a chance to dive for the ball.
“It sounds like a question you’re asking just to ask kind of, you know?,” Beckham said.
A persistent reporter — again, not me — asked again about his effort on the play.
“It was a great kick. Sometimes somebody makes a better play than you do. I could dive in there and still not get the ball. So it was a very tough call,” Beckham said. “Nobody should ever question my effort or my heart. That’s the last thing you can do. You can question me as a person, as a man, whatever you want to do, but my heart and my effort can never be questioned, ever.”
Maybe Beckham is right and the Bears just deserve credit for a brilliant play. I just know that at the time it didn’t look good.