In no special order, the Giants got touchdown runs from Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware and rookie Da'Rel Scott (a 97-yarder that would have been the longest in franchise history had it occurred in the regular season); terrific catches by Domenik Hixon for a touchdown and Victor Cruz on a fourth down to keep a scoring drive alive; two touchdown passes by David Carr; a blocked punt by rookie linebacker Greg Jones that set up a touchdown; Devin Thomas returning three kickoffs for a 46.0-yard average, including a 73-yarder; two goal line stands that helped keep the Bears out of the end zone until 24 seconds remained; an interception by rookie linebacker Mark Herzlich; and no sacks allowed on 27 pass attempts.
Oh, we failed to mention that Jacobs averaged 8.0 yards a carry, tight end Daniel Coats also caught a touchdown pass (he has none in 57 career regular season games), new kicker Rhys Lloyd kicked two field goals and five extra points, rookie linebacker Spencer Paysinger led the team with seven tackles (four solo) and cornerback Michael Coe had a team-high six unassisted stops).
It would have been a near-perfect night had starting cornerback Terrell Thomas not torn a knee ligament late in the first half. But it was certainly a more energetic – and entertaining – performance than their opening loss in Carolina.
"We played better and we improved tonight," Coach Tom Coughlin said. "We had a lot of big plays in the game. I was glad to see so many guys make strong contributions."
Perhaps more important than the gaudy numbers was the performance of the starting units. The first-team offense played five series, gained 132 yards and scored 13 points. Eli Manning completed eight of 16 passes for 78 yards.
"I definitely think there was improvement, which was a goal coming in, to sustain a couple of drives and put some points on the board," guard Chris Snee said. "We did that somewhat. Obviously, we like to start the game faster, which is an area I'm sure we'll address next week."
Defensively, the Giants' starters held the Bears to four punts, two field goals and a missed field goal attempt on seven first-half possessions.
"We were effective on both sides," safety Antrel Rolle said. "We came out and played well as a team. We have a lot of things to work on, but it's the second preseason game and that's to be expected. Special teams did a good job and the offense did a good job as well as the defense."
The victory improved the Giants to 1-1 this preseason. They host the Jets on Saturday.
Cruz made the Giants' first big play of the night late in the first quarter. On fourth-and-four from the Chicago 32, he made a leaping catch of a Manning pass over cornerback D.J. Moore to advance the ball to the Chicago 11-yard line. But the drive stalled and Lloyd came on to kick his first field goal in a Giants uniform.
The Giants took control of the game by outscoring Chicago in the second quarter, 17-3. Jacobs gave the Giants the lead for good on the first play of the quarter when he scored on an 18-yard run. On first down, Jacobs took a handoff from Manning and made a nifty move generally used by smaller backs when he juked his way past safety Major Wright. The score capped a short 31-yard drive that was set up by Thomas' 73-yard kickoff return – 31 yards longer than the Giants' best return in 2010.
After the defense forced Chicago to go three-and-out, the Giants bled 4:29 of the clock on a 32-yard drive that ended with Lloyd's 37-yard field goal, which extended the Giants' lead to 13-3. The longest play on the series was Manning's 20-yard pass to Mario Manningham.
"Those guys are all working," Manning said of his receivers. "They're all great competitors. It's fun to be in practice with them. They want to do the right things, they want to learn, they're all smart, they get things. So we're coaching them up, but they're making plays and doing a good job."
Chicago countered with Robbie Gould's second field goal, a 42-yarder that was set up by Jay Cutler's deep pass to the right to wide receiver Earl Bennett.
Carr relieved Manning and on his second series, threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Hixon. But a big assist goes to Jones, who ran through a huge hole in the Bears' protection and blocked Spencer Lanning's punt. The ball was recovered and then fumbled by Jones. Jacquain Williams picked it up and advanced it to the Chicago one-yard line. But because the play occurred inside the final two minutes of the half, it was returned to the spot of the fumble, which was the six.
"The whole time I was struggling blocking my man and I told coach that he was getting out to cover the punts really fast," Jones said. "I said, 'Coach, I can get in there if you let me blitz. If you let me go get it.' I said it like I was going to go get him. I just ran in there and Lord willing, I got in there and I blocked it. I've just got to scoop it and score. I missed my opportunity, but I'm going to try to get another one back."
On second down, Carr lofted a fade pass to the right side for Hixon, who leaped higher than cornerback Corey Graham to secure the ball for the five-yard touchdown that gave the Giants a 20-6 lead with 35 seconds left in the half.
"Carr did an awesome job," Hixon said. "He checked to the play. He got us out of a bad play and got us into a good one. It was a great ball. We practiced that. We missed a couple in practice but we hit it in the game tonight."
The onslaught continued in the third quarter, thanks in part to Coughlin's second successful replay challenge of the game. The Giants had a second-and-five from the Chicago seven when Ware ran for six yards before losing the ball, which was recovered by linebacker Chris Johnson at the one. Coughlin challenged the ruling, saying Ware was down before he fumbled. After review, referee Ron Winter agreed and the call was reversed. The Giants got a first down at the one and Ware scored on the next play by using a second effort to force the ball over the goal line.
The Giants still led, 27-6, when the Bears had an opportunity to stay in the game with a first-and-goal at the eight. Marion Barber gained six yards on second down and another yard on the next snap, setting up and four-and-goal. Barber ran off right tackle but was stopped by Deon Grant and Ayanga Okpokowuruk for no gain.
Early in the fourth quarter, Carr's 17-yard scramble helped set up his 17-yard touchdown pass to Coats, which increased the Giants' lead to 34-6. The Bears again traveled deep into Giants territory, reaching the six-yard line on a second-and-four. But again the Giants defense stood tall and on fourth down, Herzlich, the free agent from Boston College, picked off Caleb Hanie's pass down the middle for Dane Sanzenbacher
"It was a zone coverage," said Herzlich, who was holding the ball in the locker room after the game. "I tried to knock him off his route a little bit. I saw the quarterback rise up with the ball. He threw it above me. I believe I tipped it and brought it down and caught it. I was about to go down and I didn't feel anyone tackle me, so I tried to run a little bit."
The takeaway gave the Giants the ball at the Chicago five. An illegal formation penalty pushed the Giants back two yards. It didn't matter to Scott, the seventh-round draft choice from Maryland. He took a handoff from Ryan Perrilloux, slipped and almost fell to the ground before regaining his balance and scampering through the defense the length of the field for an improbable 97-yard score.
"My line just opened it up for me, it was a 35 zone," Scott said. "I tried to bounce it out and the linebackers kept flowing. I just followed Charles Scott and I think it was (James) Brewer and I cut off of them and it just opened up for me. I was thinking just don't get caught, just score.
"I'm very excited about it. It showed that I can break long runs."
Scott was one of many Giants who showed Monday night what they can do for the team.
*Coughlin won two replay challenges. The first, in the opening quarter, negated a Chicago 16-yard completion and a first down. The second, in the third quarter, kept alive a Giants touchdown drive.
On third-and-10 from the Bears' 17, Jay Cutler threw for an apparent 16-yard gain to Roy Williams. Replays showed he never had possession of the ball before hitting the ground. Coughlin challenged and after review, referee Ron Winter reversed the call on the field, forcing Chicago to punt.
In the third quarter, the Giants had a second-and-five from the Chicago seven. Ware ran for six yards before losing the ball, which was recovered by linebacker Chris Johnson at the one. But Coughlin challenged the ruling, saying Ware was down before he fumbled. After review, Winter agreed and the call was reversed. The Giants got a first down at the one and Ware scored on the next play.
*The Giants game captains were David Diehl and Chris Canty.
*The following Giants did not play vs. Chicago: kicker Lawrence Tynes (quad), quarterback Sage Rosenfels (illness/back), defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee), cornerback Prince Amukamara (foot), wide receiver Darius Reynaud (hamstring) and safety Brian Jackson (hip).
*In addition to Thomas's ACL injury, CB Brian Witherspoon (sprained knee) and DE Alex Hall (groin) also left the game due to injury.