- The Bears came out running the ball on three of the first four plays. In total, they ran the ball 17 times in the first half compared to 14 pass plays. The Bears made some yardage throwing to Jeremy Langford out of the backfield. Then Jordan Howard went out with something in his eye and Cutler started throwing it to him in the backfield. Langford is a pretty decent receiver after working all offseason on it and it was effective. Indeed, Cutler used him on a blitz to get rid of the ball quickly on the very first series.
- Interestingly, despite Langford’s success, once Howard came back they went right back to the power running game, rarely throwing to Howard. Nevertheless, Langford’s success makes you wonder if maybe they should be using him more as a change of pace. Indeed, they did use him more in the second quarter and he scored the second Bears touchdown.
- The constant use of Howard, even when the running game wasn’t working, opened up the play action pass nicely and helped Cutler and his protection a great deal.
- Some credit has to go to the offensive line that came out and controlled the Giants offensive front in the first half. The success of the entire offense, both the run game which served to set up everything, and the passing game where they gave Cutler pretty good protection, depended critically on them and early in the game they came through.
- Cutler made a beautiful throw to Zack Miller, who appeared to me to be well covered by a linebacker. It was a nice play. Indeed, Cutler had obviously decided that Miller was going to be his major target in the absence of Jeffery. Miller continued to make plays through out the first half until he had an apparent injury near the end of the period.
- While we’re at it, kudos to Cutler. Coming off of his worst game of the year, he was dropping back in the first half and getting rid of the ball quickly, something he has to do to find success. Its when Cutler drops back and holds the ball in an effort to make a big play (as he did in the second half) that he gets himself in trouble. Like most quarterbacks, he’s at his best when he spreads the ball around, reads the defense at the line of scrimmage and gets rid of the ball quickly.
- It’s a shame that the Bears good offensive performance didn’t last into the second half when the Giants took over the line of scrimmage. Cutler was under a great dal of pressure and it was evident that the loss of Josh Sitton may have broken the back of a pretty banged up offensive line. Mike Adams and Charles Leno took turns giving up pressure. Adams in particular looked totally overmatched against Jason Pierre-Paul. And Cutler’s old problem identifying and avoiding back side pressure also started to rear its ugly head. In fairness to Cutler, he did try to get rid of the ball quickly but the Giants were covering his receivers like a blanket and it was very difficult to find an uncontested throw.
- Giants came out on the first drive mixing it up and executing well. One thing that you notice immediately is how under-rated Eli Manning’s movement in the pocket is as he avoids the rush with “phone booth quicks”. Manning really is an under-rated quarterback.
- The Bears defense played pretty well in the first half. They were fast to the ball and aggressive in the way that they need to be. Generally speaking they tackled well, though when they did miss, especially on the outside as Cre’Von LeBlanc did on 4th and 2 in the second quarter, the Giants burned them.
- The LeBlanc play was the second 4th down conversion that they Bears yielded to extend a drive in the first half. The first was far more damaging as it set the Giants up for their first touchdown. The Bears need to do a better job of stiffening in those situations.
- The Bears didn’t generate much pass rush, that was as much a function of the play of the Giants offensive line as anything else. Frankly, I’ve never seen a line hold so much and get away with it. In any case, that lack of pressure burned them in the second half when Manning got things going.
- Despite that, I thought Leonard Floyd had a pretty good first half of football. He was around Manning applying pressure for a good part of the time. It was a shame to see him carted off on a back board and we can all hope, not just for his own future but for the future of the Bears, that he isn’t seriously injured.
- And Manning did eventually get things going. The Giants snapped out of their funk after half time. Taking advantage of all of the attention that the Bears were forced to give to Odell Beckham, Manning really started to spread the ball around and find the open man nicely.
- Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, and Pam Oliver did the announcing. I’ve never been a big John Lynch fan but kudos to him for at least trying to teach me something as a fan on occasion. We could have done far worse.
- Connor Barth missed the extra point on the first TD. I’m sure that makes Robbie Gould feel better. Temporarily. Gould missed his first extra-point attempt as well, probably making Ryan Pace feel better in his turn in the process. Overall, it wasn’t a good day for the kickers as Gould missed another extra point and Barth hit the post on a 54 yard field goal. Deonte Thompson had a pretty good 40 yard return in the first half. Pat O’Donnell had a good day punting.
- Adrian Amos did not do much to alleviate my concerns about his ability to make plays when he flat out dropped an interception that was right in his hands. Such plays are often the difference between winning and losing. Marquis Wilson dropped a big third down pass in the third quarter with the momentum having turned against the Bears. Jordan Howard dropped a huge third down pass with 3:30 left in the game and the Bears down six points.
- Olivier Vernon roughing the passer in the first quarter – totally unnecessary. The Bears stayed out of trouble with penalties (only 4 for 35 yards) but it was ruined by an awful holding penalty on Mike Adams on third and ten near the end of the first half took the Bears out of field goal range. Ted Larsen had a big holding penalty with 2:39 left with the Bears driving to try to score at the end of the game. Indeed, both teams played a relatively clean game. The Giants only had 4 for 35 yards, themselves.
- Neither team turned the ball over until the final minute when Cutler threw an interception trying to make a play. Cutler also gave up a sack and a forced fumble (which the Bears got back) at a critical time with 1:30 left in the game.
- Tony Romo repeated a common football mantra this week when he said that if you control the one inside of you, the one across from you really doesn’t matter. In one respect, the Bears did that today in a season where wins and losses really don’t matter as much as showing progress as the season wears on. Five penalties for 40 yards and no turnovers until the end of the game is a vast improvement over where they’ve been at for most of the year when they have continually shot themselves in the foot over and over. The team isn’t good enough to overcome those kinds of mistakes and that was very evident today as they got totally out classed in the second half.
They were beaten this game by a better team that also managed to play a clean game rather than handing them a win. But I assure you that if they continue to play like that, this won’t be true every week.