In this edition of “Cover 3” on Giants.com, we give our takeaways from the Giants’ overtime win against the Bears.
JOHN SCHMEELK: The end of the Giants-Bears game on Sunday was one of the wildest and unpredictable games I’ve seen at MetLife Stadium in quite some time. In the end it came down to some big plays and players doing things above the X’s and O’s in the first half that made the difference in the win. The Giants simply made a couple more plays than the Bears, and it started with the takeaways.
The star of the game was Alec Ogletree, who put seven points on the board on his own by anticipating a Chase Daniel pass to Tarik Cohen and returned it for a touchdown. The Giants looked dialed in to what Daniel wanted to do with the football early in this game. It gave the Giants an early 7-0 lead just two plays in after deferring on the coin toss. Ogletree’s second interception saved seven points. After Eli Manning was intercepted by Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller on the second-to-last play of the first quarter, the Bears moved the ball down to the Giants 23 after a Mario Edwards Jr. unnecessary roughness penalty. On a first-and-10, Cohen was wide open on a seam route and would have had a touchdown if Ogletree didn’t undercut the route and make an jumping one-handed interception.
The third and less talked about play is the Saquon Barkley run at the end of the first half. On a third-and-23 from the Giants 30 with 17 seconds to plays, Barkley made a half-dozen people miss on a 22-yard run on what Pat Shurmur after the game called a “give-up” play. The Giants were happy to let the half run out if the Bears didn’t call a timeout after the previous play. It put them in position to have a fourth-and-one at the Bears 48 with six seconds to play. After a nine-yard completion to Rhett Ellison, Aldrick Rosas made a 57-yard field goal to cut the Bears’ lead to 14-10.
You take those three plays, and that’s 17 points. If not for those three individual efforts, the Giants could have been down 21-0 at the half. They would have had to become a pass-first team in the second half, which would have spelled disaster against an opportunistic Bears secondary. Since it was only a four-point game at the half, the Giants were able to run it 22 times, and pass it just 19 times (not counting the Beckham trick play) in the second half.
Those big plays covered up what was otherwise an anemic first-half offensive performance for the Giants. On the Giants’ seven first-half possessions, they had four three-and-out drives, five punts, and an interception. In all the Giants’ wins this season they have been plus-2 or better in turnover ratio, and on Sunday they did it against a team in the Bears who were the best in football in that category before the game. Sometimes players just have to make plays. It made all the difference on Sunday.
DAN SALOMONE: Some people are fond of talented people. Others are fond of smart people. Pat Shurmur is fond of tough, resilient people. And there were plenty of them in Sunday’s game. They were on both sides, really, but this is Giants.com and not ChicagoBears.com. The Giants all week heard about the Bears’ league-high number of takeaways, but won the turnover differential 3-1. They heard about Khalil Mack, but out-sacked the Bears 5-3. They lost a 10-point lead with less than two minutes to go, but won when it mattered most in overtime.
“When you’re trying to flip culture, when you’re trying to build something, you’ve got to really dig in on that,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “There was some toughness and some resiliency. It would have been easy to cave when they came back, an 8-3 team, came back and tied us up, they had a little bit of juice, a little bit of mojo, but our guys found a way to put points on the board and then stop them at the end. I’m fond of toughness and resiliency, and our team showed that [Sunday]. There’s probably plenty of takeaways, you’ve probably got plenty of questions, but toughness and resiliency are demanded in our sport, and we have that. We’ve just got to clean up the mistakes and keep going. That’s why I’m proud of our guys. It’s fun to win.”
The Giants also showed physical toughness in addition to the emotional aspect of getting back off the mat. Sterling Shepard, Landon Collins, and Saquon Barkley played through things that were bad enough to sideline them momentarily before strapping up and going back into the game. On Monday morning, Barkley was asked again about the shoulder. He flashed a big smile and said the shoulder feels “really good.” That was another example of the “generational spirit” that Shurmur was talking about in his Monday press conference.
“This is my first year being in the NFL, but I have heard on other teams -- just players that have been on other teams around the league -- that when the season’s not going your way, a lot of people call it quits,” Barkley said. “And you don’t get that vibe when you come in this building, when you play in a game. For example, like you just said with those guys getting checked out and coming right back in, we’re playing for each other and we’re real competitors and we love going out there competing for each other every single day and we do that no matter what, win, lose or draw. Obviously it just hasn’t been in our favor most of this year, but that just shows and speaks to our character and speaks to the guys on this team and even though it hasn’t been clicking perfectly right now, when this thing does get going, it’s going to make all of this adversity we’ve been going through so much better.”
LANCE MEDOW: The most overlooked facet in football is special teams. So much critique is usually dedicated to offense and defense, yet sometimes special teams could very well be the difference between winning and losing a game. That was evident in the Giants’ win over the Bears. Despite a 4-8 season thus far, Aldrick Rosas is quietly having a stellar campaign. In Sunday’s win over Chicago, the second-year kicker delivered on all three of his field goal attempts, including what turned out to be the game-winner in overtime from 44 yards. Topping that feat was nailing a new franchise record 57-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Most will commend Saquon Barkley for picking up 22 yards on a third-and-23 from the Giants 30 to help set up the field goal attempt, but then Rosas had to execute on his end and he didn’t disappoint. That shouldn’t surprise anyone considering he’s now 26 of 27 this season on field goal attempts, including four for five from 50-plus yards. Rosas has come a long way since his rookie year when he had his fair share of ups and downs, and when a game comes down to overtime in the NFL, it’s a luxury to have a reliable kicker.
Rosas wasn’t the only bright spot on special teams against the Bears. Russell Shepard made a tremendous heads up play in the fourth quarter when he saved a ball from bouncing into the end zone for a touchback by tipping it to Antonio Hamilton, who then tipped it to Zak DeOssie before DeOssie downed it at the two. On the very next play, Chicago wide receiver Taylor Gabriel fumbled the ball and Giants safety Sean Chandler recovered. That helped set up a Rosas 37-yard field goal to pad the lead to ten.
While Bears running back Tarik Cohen did plenty of damage as a receiver, he’s also known for his game changing plays as a punt returner as he entered Week 13 fifth in the NFL with an average of 12.4 yards. The Giants didn’t allow him to wreck the game on special teams and part of that credit goes to punter Riley Dixon. Although they didn’t recover the onside kick, special teams helped put 12 points on the board and also changed field position thanks to a hustle play. When you win a game by three points, that all adds up.