Bears Come Full Circle to Hang on in 17-13 Win
The Bears came full circle against the New York Giants, winding up Sunday right back where they had been at the end of the season opener the previous week at Detroit.
Instead of falling behind by 17 like against the Lions, they charged ahead to a 17-0 lead at halftime with a dominant performance but still needed to escape again to win 17-13, as Eddie Jackson prevented Golden Tate from catching a pass at the goal line on the final play.
"Two-and-oh is never bad, it's delicious," Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks said. "I'll eat that every day of the week. ... And twice on Sundays."
The Bears on offense stalled repeatedly in the second half as the Giants turned it into a game and could have won if not for the incompletion forced by Jackson, and a shoving-off penalty for offensive interference on Tate as the ball sailed past.
"I'd rather it not come down to that," Nagy said. "To have it come down to the last play and then you see the penalty. Whenever you see at flag at the end your heart stops to think that maybe they're going to have the ball at the 1. That's this game."
Mitchell Trubisky threw for two first-half touchdowns, one for 28 yards to David Montgomery and one for 15 yards to Darnell Mooney. His biggest completion might have been for 3 yards to tackle Bobby Massie.
Facing a fourth-and-2 at the Giants 36, Matt Nagy went for it and Blake Martinez deflected the ball but it wound up in the arms of Massie for a first down. It let the Bears kill off more time and although Cairo Santos missed a 50-yard field goal they allowed only 2:02 for the Giants with no timeouts.
"I looked over and Bobby caught the ball and ended up falling forward," Nagy said. "That's just how it goes. I wish we would have ended with some points there. We didn't get any points, but that was a big point in the game, being able to kind of chew up that clock a little bit since they were getting close to being out of time or out of timeouts."
The Bears went 9-for-16 on third downs after going 2-for-11 the previous game, but it still came down to the last play.
"We've got to finish," Trubisky said, saying the exact opposite of what he had to say after the Lions game. "We've got to put four quarters together."
Just like Detroit had done the previous week, the Giants drove downfield against the Bears defense at game's end despite not having running back Saquon Barkley, who went out in the first half with a right knee injury, or receiver Sterling Shepard (toe).
The drive died at the 10 as the Bears went to 2-0 when Jackson kept Tate from catching the ball, and Tate was flagged anyway for shoving off on the play.
Against Detroit it had been Jaylon Johnson making the final deflection from the 16.
"We've been harping on situational football," Nagy said. "And I've got to give credit to (defensive coordinator) 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."
The penalty flag on the play opened a sore spot because a 54-yard TD return by Eddie Jackson with an interception in the fourth quarter was negated by a questionable interference penalty.
The Bears had a strong first half from Trubisky, but then he threw two interceptions in the second half. He went 18 for 28 and 190 yards, staking the Bears to their big lead with a 28-yard touchdown pass to David Montgomery on the opening drive and a 15-yarder across the field in the second quarter to Darnell Mooney.
However, the Giants responded in the second half as Jones caught fire and eventually went 25 of 40 for 241 yards with one interception, the first of Deon Bush's career.
Deon Lewis ended a 95-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-1 and Graham Gano kicked the second of his two field goals after Trubisky threw an interception to James Bradberry.
But the Bears hung on again by the skin of their teeth to win for the second straight week.
Montgomery ran for 82 yards on 16 carries, including a season-long 23-yarder during the fourth quarter as they tried to kill clock. The Bears had 135 yards rushing on 32 attempts as their line has been surging from the start.
"Those guys are being way more aggressive," Montgomery said of the line. "And it's a lot of less thinking, so.
"It's definitely an exciting thing that we know we can run the ball when we have to and now you're having to run the ball and running it because we want to."
The defense dominated in the first half as Robert Quinn had a strip sack and recovery to set up a Santos 34-yard field goal. Mack recovered the fumble.
Mack also made a key sack in the fourth quarter to help force the 37-yard Graham field goal.
At game's end, though, it came down to playing pass defense just like it did against Detroit, regardless of how they got there.
And the Bears wound up right where they were after the Lions game as they head now to Atlanta in Week 3.
"We will be careful, we will be careful not to get ahead of ourselves," Hicks said. "We will be careful to remember to check ourselves and check the things that need to be improved and be better at.
"But you've got to live, you've got to enjoy the moments because they don't come all the way. So 2-0 is a great thing, looking to keep going with that."