The New York Giants beat the Chicago Bears, 22-16, Sunday to move to 7-3, winning their fifth straight game. As you may have heard already, this is their first five-game winning streak in six years, the last one being in 2010.
For reference, that was Jason Pierre-Paul and Victor Cruz’s rookie years. Along with Will Beatty and (of course) Eli Manning, they are the only Giants who have seen what a five-game winning streak looks like before now.
But who were the REAL winners Sunday afternoon? If you read the title, you know the answer.
WINNER: Giants’ Defense
The Giants’ defense looked as though it was sleep walking through most of the first half before a batted pass by Jason Pierre-Paul — who, I do believe, leads the NFL in that category — seemed to breath life into the lackadaisical group.
Whoever was wearing the Giants’ jerseys to start the game must have gotten locked in the locker room during the half, because The New York Football Giants defense showed up in the second half.
As they have all year, the offense did enough to put the team in position to win, scoring back to back touchdowns on their first two possessions in the second half.
The defense pitched a shutout in the second half, imposing its will on the Bears’ offense. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon took turns taking the game over with outstanding run defense (as well as contributions from Johnathan Hankins and Damon Harrison) and a devastating pass rush. JPP had a pivotal sack to force a 51-yard field goal that bounced off the goal post after being pushed by the win.
With the Giants’ offense slipping into their four-minute drill with roughly 13:30 left on the clock, it was up to the defense to hold the Bears’ offense in check while the offense attempted to shorten the game. They turned up the heat on the Bears’ subsequent possessions getting four sacks in the second half, effectively shutting down the offense. A sack and a big tackle for a loss from Olivier Vernon along with another sack and a half from JPP (and a half-sack from Hankins) shook Cutler and kept the Bears in long distances throughout the fourth quarter.
Finally, it was a 13-yard sack-fumble by JPP and a 5-yard holding penalty that put Chicago in an untenable second-and-29 from the Giants 49-yard line. With Jay Cutler forced to throw the ball, Landon Collins sealed the game with his fifth interception of the season (all of which have come in the last four games).
While JPP and Vernon might share the title of “players of the game ” Collins is still making a strong case for defensive player of the year.
I almost gave this to “kickers” thanks to the three missed extra points (two of them by Giants’ kicker Robbie Gould) and a missed field goal by Chicago’s Connor Barth.
However, I have to give it to injuries.
The Bears started the game without Alshon Jeffery, though that was his own fault. They lost tight end Zach Miller on the last play of the first half when rookie Jordan Howard stepped on his foot. Cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc was lost to a concussion in the third quarter as the Giants offense surged.
Later, they lost Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton to an ankle injury early in the third quarter, which contributed their failure to run the ball in the second half. Finally, in the fourth quarter there was a scary moment as rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd ran head-first into a teammate. He was carted off the field on a back brace, though he showed encouraging movement before the medical personnel made him lay still.
The Giants didn’t escape unscathed either, losing Roger Lewis Jr. to a concussion. Though he appeared ready to keep playing after a helmet-to-helmet hit on the ground, the medical officials stopped the game to take Lewis off the field and into the locker room. He never returned and was ultimately ruled out. Later in the game Marshall Newhouse left the field with a knee injury, though he came back out in a later series.
We can be happy about the Giants winning, but the injuries suffered by both teams has to temper the excitement.