For one quarter, it looked like the 2010 nightmare all over again when the Giants set an NFL record by sacking Jay Cutler nine times in the first half of a game at MetLife Stadium. On Sunday, the Bears trailed by only six points in the fourth quarter, but Cutler was buried under a pass rush, sacked four times as the Giants held on to win 22-16.
Jason Pierre-Paul had 2 1/2 sacks, Olivier Vernon had one and Johnathan Hankins picked up a half-sack as the offense that produced 214 yards in the first half was stuffed. Pierre-Paul also drew a holding call against right guard Ted Larsen in the fourth quarter as a comeback bid was thwarted.
Mike Adams, replacing right tackle Bobby Massie who was sidelined with a concussion, struggled against Pierre-Paul's power in the end. Vernon beat left tackle Charles Leno around the edge for a sack when Larsen was driven back into the pocket, preventing Cutler from stepping up.
Cutler should have gotten the ball out on Pierre-Paul's last sack, which resulted in a fumble and a 14-yard loss after the Bears had reached the New York 30-yard line, but Adams was overmatched as Pierre-Paul rediscovered his old form.
The line did a nice job of opening holes for running back Jordan Howard in the first half when he ran for 72 of his 77 yards. Larsen had a nice block on linebacker Kelvin Sheppard and Cody Whitehair blocked nose tackle Damon Harrison to spring Howard for a 27-yard gain on a crack toss. But given a chance to rally for an upset on the road, the Bears went three-and-out five times in the second half as they were overpowered up front. Offensive line grade: 3
Cutler was without his top target, Alshon Jeffery, and suffered another major setback when tight end Zach Miller suffered a broken right foot on the final offensive play of the first half. That's when the Giants stacked the box to shut down the Bears running game. Still, others could have stepped up and helped. Howard dropped two easy passes and a third that was contested, but the Bears needed those. Marquess Wilson failed to come up with a big throw down the sideline against Janoris Jenkins, and he needed to make the catch. The very windy conditions made it a tough day to throw, and Cutler was only 6 of 16 for 126 yards in the second half, playing through a shoulder injury suffered during the game. He threaded a terrific pass to Miller for a 19-yard touchdown on the opening drive, just over linebacker Devon Kennard. He missed Josh Bellamy on a crossing route in the third quarter against a six-man pressure, one of the few blitzes Giants coordinator Steve Spagnuolo dialed up.
It was a tale of two halves as Howard showed good patience and vision in the first half and attacked the perimeter of the Giants defense. Jeremy Langford scored on a 1-yard run and fullback Paul Lasike showed improvement. Lasike had 10 snaps and had nice blocks on linebacker Jonathan Casillas in the first half. But without any threats the Giants respected, the ground game met eight-man fronts in the second half.
Wilson was going to be a little rusty playing for the first time since suffering a broken foot in the spring. It showed as he was targeted four times but made only one catch, a nice 35-yard gain on the final possession. Against a talented secondary, the Bears did not find enough open spaces.
Miller was terrific in the first half with three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. He also had a nice seal block on Howard's long run as did Logan Paulsen, who blocked Kennard and cornerback Eli Apple. Rookie Ben Braunecker got 30 snaps with Miller out but was not a factor in the passing game. Miller's presence will be missed.
With Eddie Goldman, Mitch Unrein and Will Sutton out, Cornelius Washington stepped up with a season-high 40 snaps. He drew a hold against left tackle Ereck Flowers, flushed Eli Manning out of the pocket on one rush and was credited with two tackles. C.J. Wilson knocked Manning down twice and Akiem Hicks did it once. The run defense was adequate.
Danny Trevathan, credited with 11 tackles, had a mixture of nice plays in the run and pass game. There were other times when he needed to get off blocks, as when center Weston Richburg took him out of the play on a 16-yard screen to Rashad Jennings and on Jennings' 21-yard run when right tackle Bobby Hart eliminated him. Jerrell Freeman was solid against the run.
Leonard Floyd blew up Jennings for a 2-yard loss in the second quarter. Pernell McPhee failed to back up his talk during the week. He struggled to set the edge in the run game, getting sucked inside by tight end Will Tye on a 10-yard run by Jennings around the left side. Sam Acho made a nice hustle play, stopping Odell Beckham Jr. short of a first down and popping the ball out. Willie Young held up well in the run game, but the pass rush, as a whole, was too quiet. McPhee's best pressure came when the Giants made the mistake of trying to block him with wide receiver Dwayne Harris.
With solid safety help over the top, the cornerbacks limited Beckham to five receptions on seven targets for only 46 yards. They did a nice job covering Sterling Shepard over the middle with Bryce Callahan in his return after missing two games with a hamstring injury. Sherrick McManis got caught in no man's land when Manning lofted a ball over his head for a 48-yard gain to Victor Cruz on a broken play.
Adrian Amos dropped a sure interception late in the second quarter the play before Robbie Gould hit a 46-yard field goal. It's the kind of momentum-changing play that has been fleeting for Bears safeties. He was solid in coverage on some deep shots by Manning. Rookie Deon Bush wasn't around the ball much in his first start.
Bellamy could have changed the game if he had held on to the muffed punt by Harris early in the fourth quarter. Deonte Thompson had his best game returning kickoffs and Ka'Deem Carey and Lasike made some nice blocks. Pat O'Donnell punted well. Connor Barth missed an extra point and a 51-yard field-goal attempt, so there was plenty of good and not so good.