Giants' Second-Half Defense Something to Build On
The Giants defense knew it needed to improve from its performance last Monday night in the season opener against Pittsburgh.
They came into Week 2 against the Chicago Bears, looking to be more stout against the run and pass coverage.
Those intentions didn't happen right away, as, on the first drive of the game, the Bears were able to march 82 yards in 12 plays for the first touchdown of the game.
The Bears used a mixture of runs and short and intermediate throws to keep the Giants defense off balance. The drive culminated with a 28-yard Mitchell Trubisky pass to running back David Montgomery.
After that opening drive, which made the Giants' chances for a win appear bleak, New York's defense adjusted.
Instead of the bend-but-don't-break approach, they went more to a "beat us deep" mentality.
After Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was stripped by Robert Quinn and turned the ball over on the 20-yard line, the defense only gave up four yards and held Chicago to three points.
That aborted possession for the offense put the defense back out on the field, and they were able to force Chicago into their first punt of the day.
When Jones threw his interception, the Giants defense was again able to get the ball back to the offense via the Bears' second punt.
The final Bears points came before halftime when they used the formula from their first drive to add another touchdown. Again, that formula was a mixture of short runs, and 10-15 yards passes, leading to Trubisky's second touchdown pass of the afternoon.
"The first half, we were just hurting ourselves with missed assignments and things like that," said middle linebacker Blake Martinez.
"Second half, we were refocused on doing our one of 11 and just doing our job on that given play and things started going in our favor."
After halftime, the Giants did indeed tighten things up. Although the Bears were able to make plays, they couldn't put points on the board.
"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," Trubisky said.
"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."
On the Bears' first possession of the second half, cornerback James Bradberry broke up a Trubisky pass, the ball snatched by Julian Love who returned it to the Bears' 25-yard line. that turnover set up a Giants field goal.
"We just knew we had to make a play on defense," said Bradberry. "We had to come out there, we had to stand up and make sure the offense knew that we had their back. We were going to get the ball back to them. Pretty much just a fighting mentality."
The Bears' next drive was nine plays long, but it only amassed 33 yards and ended in a punt.
The next possession for the Giants was their best of the day, an 11-play, 95-yard drive that ended with running back Dion Lewis' 1-yard touchdown run.
The Bears then tried again, but there was Bradberry to pick off the pass, that turnover leading to another Giants field goal to make it a 17-13 game.
"I was going to make a play through his arms and I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time," Bradberry said of his interception. "I was able to get one hand on it and pull it through as I came to the ground."
The defense was able to stand tall again and force the Bears to attempt a 50-yard field goal on their final possession, which they missed. This gave the ball back to the offense with two minutes to win the game.
Despite a solid drive that took them down to the 10-yard line, the Giants could not get the ball in the end zone and fell to 0-2 on the season, their fourth consecutive 0-2 start.
Despite the loss, the second-half defensive performance is something the team can build on.
"We came out at halftime and said we're going to find out a lot about the team we are," head coach Joe Judge said about the second-half performance.
"You're down 17-0; 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. I liked the way our guys responded."
A world without Barkley will most likely result in the defense needing to play at a higher level for the team to have success.