Two weeks, two close calls for the 2020 Chicago Bears. Once again, they held off an opponent inside the red zone with time running out. On Sunday, it was the New York Giants attempting a fourth quarter comeback that fell short for a Bears 17-13 win.
The biggest difference between the season opener and the home opener, is that Chicago led from start to finish. However, Giants QB Daniel Jones took his team from his own 40-yard line with two minutes left down to the Bears 10. His pass to Golden Tate fell incomplete as timed expired. Bears fans held their collective breath when a penalty flag followed, but officials called offensive pass interference on Tate, and the game was over.
The Giants lost more than the game. Saquon Barkley sustained a torn ACL at the start of the second quarter. He was tackled by Eddie Jackson after a six yard gain. The extent of the injury was confirmed by MRI the following day.
New York coach Joe Judge liked the way his team responded in the second half to the injuries and the double digit deficit. “We came out at halftime and said we’re going to find out a lot out about the team we are. You’re down 17 nothing, what kind of team we’re going to have. It’s never about what happens to you. It’s about how you respond to it,” he said. “We’ve got the right guys. We’ve got the right kind of guys. We’ve gotta clean some things up. We’ve gotta improve by not putting ourselves behind in games by making mistakes that we can control. Starts with turnovers, penalties and mental errors. Really the mental errors we were good on today. We played a smart brand of football. But the turnovers, that’s hard to overcome, the penalties.“
Bears coach Matt Nagy credited his defensive staff for the hold at the end of the game. “I would rather it not come down to that,“ he noted. “To have it come down to the last play and then when you see the penalty, whenever you see a flag at the end, your heart stops to think that they’re going to have maybe the ball at the one. But that’s this game. And we have been harping on situational football and I got to give credit to Chuck Pagano and his staff on defense, and then the players to execute. This is two games in a row now that we were able to learn from last week and get better this week. And again, I don’t want to take away from the fact that we’re 2-0 right now. I think that that’s very important for all of our players to understand and recognize that we are 2-0. But what’s great about that is that we know in a lot of areas we can be a lot better.“
Mitch Trubisky’s 18/28, 190 yard passing performance was less than stellar. One of his two interceptions was literally ripped right out of Allen Robinson’s hands. The Bears defense limited the damage to a Graham Gano field goal that got the Giants to within four with half a quarter to play.
You always got to give credit to the defense when they’re making plays and making you get off the field. We can’t turn the ball over and that’s myself and the whole offense included. So I just got to continue to make good decisions, not putting the ball in harm’s way and stay on the field. But it’s definitely us staying in rhythm, us staying aggressive and everybody being on the same page and having that mindset that we got to go out there and finish. So we got to look at it, correct our mistakes and keep getting better.-Mitch Trubisky
Trubisky’s two touchdown passes came on improvised plays. His first scoring pass happened on the first possession of the game, in the form of a 28-yard catch an run toss to David Montgomery. “When you get a team that likes to drop eight a lot, and that I don’t know if that was necessarily that play but, sometimes you’ll have that where they just want to zone you out and make you make plays,” stated Nagy. “And that last one happened to be one there where I thought Mitch did a good job at extending the play, and then he gave his guy an opportunity to make that touchdown catch. So, again, I said it on the front end. I think that that Giants defense, the things that they do, they’re pretty good, and we just wanted to be able to continue staying with that run as much as we could and I felt like our offensive line tight ends and running backs did a good job at that.“
Judge commented on trying to contain the Chicago passing attack. “This team presents you with a lot of things you have to deal with, whether you can rush four or five at times you had to put some extra guys in coverage the way they were playing. The extended plays got us early. The touchdown on the first drive really resulted in stand play by the quarterback and the same thing at the end of the half. We’ve gotta make sure we finish and that was part of the interest in keeping an interest guy in coverage to really watch the quarterback and try and eliminate those extended plays.”
New York’s Jones finished 25/40 to go along with 241 yards in the air. His lone interception came in the second quarter when the Giants were in Chicago territory. Deon Bush intercepted a pass over the middle at the 24 yard line. Jones knows his team needs to get off to a better start. “Tough first half for us. I’d like to go back and look at the turnovers, and certainly gotta do a better job with that. You know, we came out in the second half and we responded as a team. I thought we were able to play some complementary football with the defense coming up for us and making big plays and the offense able to move the ball and score some points. So ultimately we ran out of time there at the end, but we responded, and we certainly gotta start off better.”
Next up for Chicago – the Atlanta Falcons, a team that has given up more than 38 points in each of its two first games.