EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—After three weeks of celebrating the arrival of Mike Martz, the Bears found out what happens when the offensive coordinator's scheme goes bad, very bad.
Jay Cutler was knocked out with a concussion, backup Todd Collins was taken out after suffering a neck stinger and a franchise record for sacks allowed was set as the Giants bagged 10 in thumping the Bears 17-3 Sunday night at New Meadowlands Stadium.
More stunning than the Bears' inability to protect Cutler and his complete lack of awareness to his surroundings was that they managed to remain in the game after a brutal first half. Cutler, who was also intercepted once by Terrell Thomas, was sacked nine times behind a makeshift offensive line and fumbled three times in the first 30 minutes.
One of the shots knocked him out with a concussion that was diagnosed at halftime when the Giants unveiled the Ring of Honor for franchise greats. The defensive line which overran the Bears might be honored at the next home game. As grisly as it was, the Bears trailed only 3-0, a testament to the strength of the defense.
The Giants (2-2) found a way to run the ball and they totaled 189 yards on the ground and got touchdowns from Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs to finish off the Bears (3-1).
Cutler wasn't made available afterward and coach Lovie Smith said Cutler will start Sunday at Carolina if he's cleared to play. Cutler will have to be checked out by a Bears doctor and an independent physician before he will be allowed to return to practice.
"If he's healthy and ready to go, of course he'll be back out there," Smith said. "He took some hits. It's hard to tell when (he suffered the concussion). We realize how it looked tonight, which was bad."
The brutal offensive showing — the Bears' only points came on a 40-yard Robbie Gould field goal in the fourth quarter after a Chris Harris fumble recovery — created real questions about what Martz was doing.
Amazingly, New York succeeded without their top pass rusher Mathias Kiwanuka. He was diagnosed with a bulging disk in his neck Friday and had four of the team's six sacks through the first three weeks. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora had three sacks each against a patchwork line that could be without left tackle Chris Williams another week or two. Left guard Roberto Garza is also battling a knee injury.
Make no mistake, the nine sacks of Cutler were a product of three factors. First, the line was horrid and that was before right guard Lance Louis was knocked out with a knee injury. The Giants came from all directions and weren't burned once by Cutler, who had done so well with hot reads in previous weeks.
Second, Cutler was clueless to what was going on around him — and that was before the concussion. He could have avoided at least four sacks by making heady plays and throwing the ball away.
Third, Martz made no adjustments, at least none that worked. After eight sacks, Cutler took a deep drop on first down at the Bears' 19-yard line with 58 seconds remaining in the first half. Why? In desperate need of regrouping, the play asked Cutler and the line to do something it had proven it couldn't and cornerback Aaron Ross picked up the ninth sack.
Asked if he had to evaluate the play-calling, Smith said the Bears are constantly evaluating.
Collins replaced Cutler and it was apparent that the backup quarterback gets no reps in practice with the offense. Martz has the starting quarterback do all of the work with the Bears' offense, leaving Collins and No. 3 quarterback Caleb Hanie to split work running the scout team.
Collins wasn't on the same page with his receivers, finishing 4 of 11 for 36 yards with one interception. Hanie finished 3 of 4 for 36 yards. Collins said he will be able to play next week.
The Bears are now tied with the Packers atop the NFC North, and the Chiefs (3-0) are the NFL's only unbeaten. A 3-1 start would have sounded appealing a month ago.
"We're not happy right now," middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "We didn't see this one coming. It's tough to see anyone get hit like that. Especially our quarterback."