I didn’t watch the second half of the Giants vs. Bears game on Sunday afternoon because of Rosh Hashanah, but I just checked out the highlights and it looked a lot more fun than the first half. For the first 30 minutes of the game, Chicago dominated possession and turned the Giants over twice. New York failed to put enough pressure on Mitch Trubisky, and that allowed him to lead the Bears on two touchdown drives of 80 yards or more.
Worst of all was the injury to Saquon Barkley. The star tailback looked like he was finally finding a rhythm when he went down clutching his right leg on the first play of the second quarter. We won’t know for sure until the MRI results come out, but it looks like Barkley’s season is over.
That drive ended with Daniel Jones throwing an interception in field goal range. Those three points would have been nice to have later.
The Giants went into the locker room trailing 17-0, so it’s a good sign for Joe Judge’s tenure and for the future of the franchise that I feel they should have won the game. New York’s biggest free agent acquisition, James Bradberry, forced two turnovers by Trubisky by deflecting one pass so that Julian Love could intercept it and stealing another right out of Allen Robinson’s hands.
The playmaking on defense gave Jones the opportunity to finally lead the Giants into the end zone. On a sequence reminiscent of last Monday’s epic march that ended in an interception, Jones took New York on an 11-play, 95-yard drive that this time achieved seven points. The biggest play may have been a late hit penalty on Chicago, but give Jones credit for being consistent and taking what the Bears were giving him on a day when the running game was once again a non-factor.
Okay, it was at least a little bit of a factor. Facing 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line, Jones handed the ball to Lewis for the first time of the possession, and he plowed his way across the goal line for the Giants’ only touchdown of the game. Lewis also proved to be a reliable target in the passing game, which is where he’ll be used most of the time once Wayne Gallman is activated next week.
The touchdown made the score 17-10, and the Giants had a great opportunity to tie the game following Trubisky’s second interception of the half. However, the drive stalled in the red zone and New York settled for a Graham Gano field goal. To get the ball back in Jones’s hands for a chance to win the game, the defense would need to come up big one more time.
In fact, it came up big two more times. First on 4th-and-2 when Big Blue appeared to have knocked away Trubisky’s pass attempt only to have it caught by offensive tackle Bobby Massie to secure the first down. The Giants persevered, though, and didn’t allow another yard over the next three plays, which led to a missed field goal by Cairo Santos from 50 yards away.
The fluke catch by a lineman had already cost the Giants in time, though. Maybe with a few extra seconds they could have scored another touchdown on their final possession of the game. Instead, Jones had to throw the ball into the end zone from 10 yards out with four seconds remaining. Despite a pass interference call on Golden Tate, the pass fell incomplete, allowing Chicago to hold on for the victory.
The Giants are now 0-2 and without their star running back. Their next three games are vs. the defending NFC champion 49ers, at the 2-0 Rams, and at a Dallas team that has beaten the Giants six times in a row. We’re going to find out a lot about Jones, Joe Judge, and the Giants over that span. Based on what I’ve seen so far, there will probably be growing pains, as the playoffs have to already be considered a long shot.
The good news is that the division appears to once again be wide open. The Cowboys needed a miracle to beat Atlanta on Sunday, the Eagles are 0-2, and the Team With No Name just got shellacked by the Cardinals.
We could see a lot more football talk on this blog going forward, because the Mets lost 7-0 to the Braves yesterday despite Rick Porcello pitching one of his best games of the season. Slick Rick pitched 7.0 innings with 10 strikeouts and two walks and allowed just one run on a Ronald Acuna home run. Unfortunately, the Mets’ offense was finally shut down by Kyle Wright and his 5.74 ERA of all people.
The Mets managed just one hit and one walk off of Wright in 6.1 innings and they didn’t do much better against the Atlanta bullpen. Meanwhile, Jeurys Familia and Chasen Shreve gave up a combined six runs in the final two frames to allow the Braves to get comfortable.
The Mets are now 2.5 games behind Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and San Francisco, who are all tied at .500 for the final National League playoff spot. New York probably has to run the table against Tampa Bay and Washington just to have a chance of sneaking in. The good news is that Jacob deGrom is on the mound against the Rays tonight.