*The Giants won their fifth straight game with a 22-16 defeat of the Bears: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – How appropriate that the Giants ended three successive and successful weeks at home by winning in the kind of difficult conditions that have characterized football in the Jersey Meadowlands since they first played here 40 years ago.
On a cold and blustery day that turned placekicks, punts, passes, and even snaps into an adventure, the Giants – pardon the pun - stormed back from a 7-point halftime deficit to defeat the Chicago Bears, 22-16, Sunday afternoon in MetLife Stadium.
The Giants won their fifth consecutive game – a first since 2010 – and improved their record to 7-3, their best 10-game start in eight years. They won home games in three consecutive weeks for the first time since Oct 21-Nov 4, 1962.
After falling behind, 16-9, the Giants shut out Chicago in the final two quarters.
"I'm proud of the way the guys responded at halftime," coach Ben McAdoo said. (It was) 13-0 in the second half. Came out with the fire burning."
Hey, anything to mitigate the chill.
Had it been a warmer and calmer day, the score likely would have been 24-17. But the Giants missed two extra points and the Bears one, an example of how the weather influenced the game. The official game summary said the temperature was 41 degrees with winds of 10 miles-per-hour, for a wind chill of 35 degrees. But gusts blew much higher at times, and there was no discernable pattern to the wind, either in its frequency or direction.
"That was probably the toughest conditions I might have ever kicked in," said Giants kicker Robbie Gould, who hit the left upright on his first extra point try and was wide left on his third. "Just because it would stop and start and stop and start. I'm used to it. I just missed two today. I have to go back, evaluate it and see how I can get better."
Gould is accustomed to kicking in unpleasant conditions. He did, after all, play his first 11 NFL seasons with the Bears, whose Soldier Field home sits next to Lake Michigan. Gould knows cold and wind. But this was different.
"Usually, it's more constant," he said. "I don't think I've ever had a game where it's 50 mph where it would stop and start. That's not an excuse why I missed it. I hit the first one great, right where I wanted to hit it. The second one I just didn't hit a good ball."
Eli Manning completed 21 of 36 passes for 227 yards and did not throw an interception while passing for two scores. But he found it hard to throw, and Manning has plenty of experience throwing in North Jersey.
"It can be tough," Manning said of the wind. "The first half, I thought it wasn't too bad. We kind of got gusts at times there in the second half. Especially in the fourth quarter, it got pretty constant with the wind. It was just one of those days that it was going to be tough to get the ball down the field. Your throws, you wanted to have a little zip on it, and it's tough to throw deep stuff and long out-breaking routes. I thought we did a good job keeping things over the middle more, trying clean shots. You know when you start throwing over people and put a touch on it, that's when the wind can really affect it, so we didn't have too many of those throws."
Punter Brad Wing had a 42.5-yard net average on six punts and placed two balls inside the 20-yard line, but those aren't the feats McAdoo cited after the game.
"It was very tough to handle the ball," McAdoo said. "Even the last punt that we got off, you saw how it was a tough catch. Catching the snaps today was even a challenge for those guys in the punt game. But the kicking game was a challenge today, the pass was a challenge, and it was nice not to turn the ball over today even in a game like this where the elements factor."
Each team scored early, the Bears on Jay Cutler's 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Miller, the Giants on Rashad Jennings' 2-yard run. But both Connor Barth and Gould missed their extra point tries. Barth's 40-yard field goal gave Chicago a 9-6 lead.
In the second quarter, Jeremy Langford scored on a 1-yard run and Gould kicked a 46-yard field goal, leaving the Giants trailing at halftime, 16-9.
"I think we played well the first half," Manning said. "We only had three possessions. We had a touchdown, had a field goal, and had one punt. We didn't have a whole lot of opportunities. We had long drives. I thought we were moving the ball well and we just continued that through the third quarter."
That's when they seized control of the game. The Giants took the second-half kickoff and drove 56 yards in nine plays, the last a 9-yard touchdown pass from Manning to tight end Will Tye. After forcing the Bears to go three-and-out, Manning's third-down, 15-yard scoring pass to Shepard gave the Giants their only lead at 22-16 – which held up for the final 21:49.
But it wasn't easy. The Bears had six offensive possessions after Shepard's score, including one that ended with Barth missing a 51-yard field goal attempt. On the last one, Chicago moved from its own 22 to the Giants' 30. But a 14-yard sack by Jason Pierre-Paul (who had 2.5 of them) and a 5-yard penalty sent them back to the 49. On second-and-29, Cutler's pass for Marquess Wilson was intercepted with 1:11 remaining by safety Landon Collins – his fourth game in a row with a pick, and his fifth interception in four games.
Even Collins said he was affected by the wind.
"When the ball is in the air? Definitely," he said. "I was out there earlier and the ball was going all types of ways. You have to watch the ball and really pay attention to it when the ball is in the air. You have a great quarterback – Cutler has a strong arm, so it was cutting through the wind. It was really on point, so you have to just play through it."
Which is exactly what the Giants did all day.
Players who stood out in Sunday's win against the Bears