Whether it was because of their Ring of Honor celebration at halftime or because they felt they were in a must win situation, the New York Giants came out playing with a fiery passion on Sunday night. The Chicago Bears entered the New Meadowlands Stadium very confident and looked to expand on their surprising 3-0 start. They left New Jersey, however, battered, bruised, and injured with their first defeat of the season.
New York Giants Defense
The story of the night was emphatically about the New York Giants defense. As a whole, the defense recorded a season high 10 sacks, forced three turnovers, and completely dominated the Bears on the defensive side of the ball. The Giants also knocked not one, but two Chicago quarterbacks out of the game in an impressive 17-3 victory. In the first half alone, a weary Jay Cutler was sacked nine times and lost a fumble. The Chicago offensive line was decimated by a hungry and determined front four of the Giants who gave Cutler no time to deliver the ball to his receivers. At the end of the first half, Jay Cutler suffered a concussion on an Aaron Ross sack that drove Cutler's head into the ground. Cutler would not return. Neither would the Bears offense. The Giants greatly improved their defense after consecutive dismal performances in Week 2 against the Colts (38 PA) and Week 3 against the Titans(29 PA).
The Rushing Game
The Giants performed well on the other side of the ball as well. Eli Manning (18/30 for 195 yards, 0TD, 0 INT) and company managed the game well allowing the passing game to set up the running game. Ahmad Bradshaw was a work horse as he carried a majority of the load. He finished with a career high in carries with 23 for 129 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Jacobs added another 62 rushing yards and a touchdown for an offense that did just enough to keep the Bears at bay. Hakeem Nicks was a bright spot for the receiving core as he had 8 catches for 110 yards, one of which was a 30 yard catch and just shy of a touchdown.
After halftime the Bears did not make the correct adjustments in attempting to thwart the Giants front four. The G Men were still able to get to the quarterback and disrupt any pass attempts. New York even blitzed their cornerbacks creating havoc for a very rusty Todd Collins. The veteran was a mere 4 out of 11 for 36 yards and an interception. After Todd Collins was knocked out of the game after a hit by Giants LB Michael Boley, Caleb Hanie, a third year virtual unknown was given an opportunity. He completed 3 out of 4 passes for 36 yards, but it wasn't nearly enough. At that point, (late in the 4th quarter) it didn't matter who the Bears put under center as New York would later roll to victory.
There was certainly no question of lack of discipline in this game as the Giants did not commit foolish penalties and limited their mistakes. However, it seems ironic that during a losing streak people (whether inside or outside of the organization) are quick to blame the head coach implying that he cannot control his players and perhaps his job is on the line. Tom Coughlin has over 20 years of coaching experience and with every tipped ball that goes for an interception or fumble that was caused because a running back did not hold on to the ball tightly enough, the man who heads the team is sometimes automatically blamed. Coughlin is definitely not infallible, but perhaps tonight's game was more about unity than anything else. Whether you like him or not is one thing, but there is no question that Tom Coughlin can coach and run a football team and tonight he took another step in proving that.