Fortunately, that is not the case and now we have ourselves with a nice victory Friday to lead into the weekend. The Bears played fairly well on offense last night and just good enough on defense. Once again the defense was aided by turnovers but that is what the defense does and it is no way an indication that the team got lucky.
The Bears outgained the Giants in total plays (65-53), yards (372-355) and first downs (26-21). Third downs are still a trouble spot on both sides of the ball with the defense allowing the Giants to convert 63 percent of theirs while the offense converted just 45 percent of theirs. According to the announcers, the Giants had entered the game converting only 26 percent of their third downs.
Now, onto the controversial part, the positional grades:
Jay Cutler's decision making was great, he threw the ball away when he had to (even drawing what by all accounts was a bad intentional grounding call) and overall didn't have many cringe-worthy throws. He was turnover free, aided by good protection but it's also a testament to his decision making. He completed 66 percent of his passes and found six different receivers. He was also good at getting outside the pocket and scrambling when he needed to and even sliding when it was necessary.
Running backs: B+
Matt Forte had a decent game, although his yards-per carry was down (3.5), he still managed to gain 67 yards on the ground and 44 on six receptions. In total he had 25 touches, which is right where you want to see them at. He didn't follow his blocks on a screen pass that ended up going for about seven yards when it could have been a lot more. Forte also had a solid effort in pass protection, picking up the blitzes when they were there. Tony Fiammetta recorded his first reception of the season and also had a pretty good day blocking. Michael Bush continues to be solid but unimpressive in his minor role.
Wide receivers: A
Another solid game from the receivers. Brandon Marshall got his and bounced back from an early drop to catch nine passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to his first drop, Marshall also lost yards on a screen pass early in the 4th when the Bears were trying to eat the clock, not the best move from a veteran. Alshon Jeffery had only one catch but was targeted four additional times and he was open but he and Cutler couldn't connect. Earl Bennett did not catch either of his two targets but the throws were off.
Tight ends: A-
Martellus Bennett turned in what is becoming a usual game for him, six catches for 68 yards on seven targets. He also played well in the blocking game. He caught a key third down pass late in the fourth that ended up not mattering because of a defensive holding call. Dante Rosario had a quiet day in blocking duty and while he didn't make any glaring errors, he wasn't a huge standout in my eyes either.
Offensive line: A-
The line did not surrender a sack, which is always going to get them high marks, however the group's run-blocking continues to be a concern. While they didn't allow their signal caller to get taken down there were times where Cutler felt the pressure and got rid of the ball or scrambled. Matt Slauson, to my eye, did not have his best game, getting pushed back on a couple of occasions in the run game and giving up pressure as well. Overall though, the line gave up only two QB hits (both by Mathias Kiwanuka). They had only one penalty (a holding on Roberto Garza).
Overall offensive grade: A-
The offense played very well, stringing together eight and a nine-play touchdown drives in the first half before putting together a 10-play drive that ended in a field goal to close the half. They also managed eight and nine-play drives in the second half that ate the clock but did not end in points. Overall, no turnovers and no sacks earns this group high marks.
Defensive line: C-
This was supposed to be the game where the defensive line got going and once again, it didn't happen. I realize that the middle of the line is being manned by scrubs right now and it's obvious. There was some pressure but the only sack of the night came from a blitzing Lance Briggs, who also tallied the team's only QB hit. Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin each had a tackle for loss but overall the pressure wasn't there. Even when they did get pressure, they still couldn't bring Manning down. In the run game, they got dominated by the Giants, leaving big openings for Brandon Jacobs to truck through. Landon Cohen didn't have a bad game, getting through the line early but overall it was another disappointing effort by the D-line.
Lance Briggs had another solid game but it wasn't without its shortcomings as he was carried into the endzone on Jacobs' first touchdown. However, he had the team's only sack and two tackles for loss plus a pass deflection and the earlier mentioned QB hit. The group overall played pretty well, although I notice them biting hard on play fakes a lot which is hurting them. The linebackers are being called on a lot more to blitz to make up for the decimated line's shortcomings and it's working fairly well. They didn't miss many tackles but did get trucked by Jacobs at times.
Isaiah Frey had a rough night, getting burned by Rueben Randle on his first catch of the game and missing some tackles. He also couldn't bring down Bear Pascoe on his only catch, allowing him to turn it into a 14-yard gain. Tim Jennings had the best outing, sliding over in place of Charles Tillman. With those big shoes to fill, Jennings did well, notching two interceptions and keeping Victor Cruz in check (4 catches for 68 yards). He set the tone early by batting down the ball from Cruz on the game's opening play. However, he played really soft on Rande's 37-yard touchdown but it looked as if he passed him off to Major Wirght. Jennings also drew a bad pass interference call which allowed the Giants' last score. There was bad tackling at times from all members of the secondary at various times.
Chris Conte squared up on Brandon Jacobs on his big first down run after the Bears turned it over on downs. Wright recognized a draw play later in the first quarter and tackled Da'Rel Scott after only two yards. But Wright was manipulated by Manning on the Randle touchdown when Jennings had passed Randle to him. Other than those plays the safeties played fairly well, they crashed up in the run game pretty well and kept the big plays from getting passed them. Wright led the team with 11 solo tackles, which concerns me about the job being done by the players in front of him.
Overall defensive grade: C+
This defense is struggling right now, the line can't get any pressure, they can't stuff the run and the cornerbacks have been getting burned a little too often. The safety play has been spotty at times and with the injuries piling up it's becoming a major concern. Hopefully with the long week and then the bye week some of these injuries will get healed up but the unit as a whole is playing poorly.
Special teams: B
The 46-yard kick return by the Giants was the only big special teams play the Bears surrendered. They did not allow a punt return and Adam Podlesh was a big part of that by placing all of his punts inside the 20 without a touchback. There were two penalties on special teams though; an offsides call on an extra point and an illegal block in the back on Zachary Bowman on a punt return in third quarter. Robbie Gould tied Blair Walsh's NFL record for consecutive kicks made over 50 yards. His worst play of the night was a short kickoff that allowed the Giants' big return.
The game plan was solid all around, on defense the blitzes were well-timed and they seemed to keep the offense guessing when they would come. The offensive gameplan was also good, utilizing Matt Forte and getting Brandon Marshall involved early. Cutler played well again and the team managed to be turnover-free. The offense came out quicker, though I somewhat question going for it on 4th down so early in the first quarter but if they had converted I'd probably mark them up higher. I know what they were going for and I can appreciate the gusto. The only other question I have in regards to coaching was why in the second half after a long, chew-up-the-clock drive full of short passes and runs, did the Bears then get the ball back and take shots down field and turn around and punt after a short drive?
How would you grade the Bears' 27-21 victory?