The Chicago Bears found out how easy it is to get back on the saddle if the New York Giants are your opponents, enjoying yet another interception-filled evening courtesy of Eli Manning, while Jay Cutler found out how simple games can be when he doesn’t make mistakes and focuses on getting the ball to Brandon Marshall.
But while the Bears didn’t look to impressive in their 27-21, improving to 4-2 and winning for the first time after two consecutive losses, it’s fascinating to see the New York Giants sinking to new lows, as each week presents another study case of who is playing worse at the moment, Eli Manning or his offensive line.
Manning threw three more interceptions in the loss, as the Giants drop to 0-6 for the first time since 1976 (a team that lost its first nine games), including one of the very first drive of the game and another one on the next drive after the Giants defense stopped the Bears. His second interception was a pick-six, returned 48 yards by Tim Jennings for the touchdown, giving the Bears a 7-0 lead, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Manning didn’t throw his third interception until late in the fourth quarter, in yet another attempt by the Giants to turn this game around. But after matching the Bears score for score midway through the second quarter, Brandon Marshall’s second touchdown catch and Robbie Gould’s two consecutive field goals gave the Bears a 13 point lead the terrible Giants couldn’t come back from.
The Giants didn’t stay in the game thanks to Manning, who did throw one touchdown pass and completed 14-of-26 passes for 239 yards. It was Brandon Jacobs with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns that did most of the damage against a Bears’ interior defensive line that has been ravaged by injuries, and they don’t have the depth to make up for it. Jacobs ran for 65 yards between the tackles, including both of his touchdowns. Luckily, they are the best in the NFL when it comes to creating turnovers, leading with 17 takeaways so far and adding another defensive touchdown to the list.
The Bears did their homework on Manning, bringing in a defensive back to pass rush on three of his dropbacks – two of them resulting in interceptions. Manning has now thrown five interceptions against added pressure from a DB, more than any quarterback had in all of 2012, averaging an interception against a blitzing defensive back every 7.2 dropbacks compared to an interception every 24.5 dropbacks when not facing that kind of pressure. He is now the first quarterback since Dan Fouts in 1986 to throw 15 interceptions through the first six games of the season.
And while Cutler isn’t exactly joining the Manning-Brady-Brees-Rodgers club, it’s hard to ignore that over the last couple of games he’s not only avoided throwing interceptions, but making good and clever decisions most of the time. He had a healthy Martellus Bennett, but it was his connection with Brandon Marshall that reaped most of the benefits, completing 9-of-10 passes when targeting his favorite receivers, two of those completions resulting in touchdowns. In the first five weeks of the season, Cutler completed 67% of his passes when targeting Marshall.
The Bears have problems, especially on defense, as surprising as that sounds. But as they pick up the pieces from consecutive losses, it’s always helpful to play against a complete mess like the New York Giants, who have hit a new rock bottom in their never ending embarrassing decline, while Eli Manning erases any memory of those performances that made him a two-time Super Bowl champion.