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Three plays that changed the game in the Giants’ loss to the Bears

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Which plays had the biggest effect on the Giants’ loss to the Bears?

NFL: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For a low-scoring game which the New York Giants were predicted to lose by six or seven points, the Giants 19-14 loss to the Chicago Bears turned out to be an exciting, back-and-forth affair.

Ultimately the Giants were unable to complete the upset victory, but they were able to put themselves in position with one big play. Unfortunately, they also missed some big plays and the Bears made a few of their own.

Let’s take a look at the plays that changed the game.

Golden Tate touchdown (NYG + 15 percent)

The 23-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Jones to Golden Tate was the single biggest play of the game for the Giants — not just for the score to put the game back in reach, but because it came on a fourth-and-18.

Credit where credit is due, this was a great throw by Jones to get the ball to the back of the end zone while all but in the grasp of two defenders, and a nice catch by Tate to secure the touchdown.

That being said, this play could have gone very sideways in a few ways. First is that both Nate Solder and Will Hernandez got burned off the snap by Khalil Mack and Roy Robertson-Harris (respectively). Robertson-Harris was in the backfield so quickly it appeared as though he was almost unblocked. Had he been able to affect Jones just a little bit more, this might have been a sack. Likewise, Mack was in the backfield with little interference from Solder and was a fraction of a second away from hitting Jones as he threw the ball. A couple inches and that ball could have been tipped.

And finally is the curious decision by safety Eddie Jackson to not stay on top of the play. It appears as though the Bears are playing a Cover 4 look with a MOD (Man Only Deep) pattern match. If so, then Jackson’s assignment is to cover the deep part of the field, and there is man coverage in trail position on Golden Tate. Had he stayed deep, he could have potentially contested the catch, forced Jones to hold on to the ball that extra half-second Mack needed, or possibly come away with the interception.

This was a great play for the Giants and put them in position to come away with the come-from-behind, upset victory. But this is also a play in which a lot of things had to break the Giants’ way to happen.

Khalil Mack strip sack (CHI + 16 percent)

All told, the Giants did well against Mack. He created pressure throughout the game, but between some largely solid play from Nate Solder and a combination of quick passes and roll-outs, the Giants were able to keep him away from Daniel Jones.

But you can only contain a player like Mack for so long, and about two-thirds of the way through the third quarter, he finally broke through.

He gets a great get-off on the snap, and is across the line of scrimmage almost before Solder is out of his stance. From there Mack uses a long-arm to maintain separation and keep Solder’s hands off of him before accelerating around the edge. Solder had almost no chance on this play and Mack’s finish to his rush should be used to train scouts what to look for when evaluating an EDGE player’s “Bend and Burst”.

Not only did Mack get the sack, but he separated Jones from the ball, which Chicago recovered and put in the endzone three plays later.

Giants’ missed field goals (CHI + 20 percent)

I am going to lump both of these plays together (and forego the usual gif). They occurred relatively close together, were fairly similar, and it could be argued that taken as a single sequence they were the difference in the game.

The analytics around punting, kicking a field goal, and going for it on fourth down are very interesting — and occasionally counter-intuitive. For example, Chicago made two field goals in their win. The first didn’t move the needle at all with regards to increasing or decreasing either team’s likelihood of winning. Their second field goal actually increased the Giants’ odds of winning.

Taken with the general inconsistency, lack of discipline, and offensive struggles on the Bears’ part, the Giants’ missed field goals largely sunk their chances of winning the game.

But then the Giants missed a pair of field goals, and while Aldrick Rosas will take the heat — and the hit to his season stats — both misses can be laid at the feet of long-time long-snapper Zak DeOssie.

DeOssie’s snap was downright bad on the first one, rolling along the ground the whole way back. His second snap was better, but still went wide and once again threw off the timing of the operation.

It is hard watching DeOssie’s sudden decline, but he hasn’t been consistent or dependable these last few weeks. And considering the fact that specialists are only on the field in high-leverage situations, it seems unlikely that DeOssie would be afforded the chance to work through whatever issue he is having. Perhaps if he were at another position, but specialists have to perform the first time, every time. They don’t get a second or third down to make up for a bad play.