Thursday, October 10, 2013
Halftime thoughts: Could have been worse
By Dan Graziano
CHICAGO -- Things started about as poorly as they could have started for the New York Giants against the Chicago Bears here at Soldier Field. Eli Manning threw interceptions on each of the Giants' first two possessions, raising his league-leading total to 14, and the second was run back for a touchdown by Bears cornerback Tim Jennings. That got the Bears out to an early 7-0 lead that could have been worse if Chicago had elected to kick an easy field goal after the first interception instead of going for it on fourth-and-2.
And yes, the Giants trail 24-14 at the half, the Bears get the ball back to start the second half and the strong likelihood is that the Giants leave here with an 0-6 record after becoming the first team in NFL history to allow 30 or more points in each of its first six games.
There have been some encouraging signs. For example, with fullback John Conner paving the way, Brandon Jacobs rushed for 53 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in the first quarter alone. The Giants' first-quarter total of 56 rushing yards nearly equaled the league-worst average of 56.8 they brought into the game. The Bears are banged up at defensive tackle and seemed to be daring the Giants to run the ball, and the Giants have been able to do it. The threat of a running game has also helped Manning and the passing game, as the touchdown pass to Rueben Randle that tied the game at 14-14 came on play-action.
The Giants also are 4-for-6 on third downs, which is significant since the were 16-for-61 on third down for a league-worst percentage of 26.2 through the first five games.
Jon Beason, who got the start at middle linebacker in his second game since coming over from Carolina in a trade, also showed a lot in the early going. He's the kind of physical, athletic presence the Giants' linebacking corps has lacked, and you can see why they wanted to work him in so quickly. He did get caught up on the first of Jay Cutler's touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall, following Alshon Jeffery and leaving Marshall open in the end zone, but that had a lot to do with a well-designed play by the Bears. Beason has looked good overall.
Still, the Giants trail by 10 on the road and have already turned the ball over twice. All is most definitely not well. As much as Manning seems to want to keep throwing to Randle, he appeared to be part of the problem on both of the interceptions. Hakeem Nicks still isn't separating from receivers. And of course, the dormant Giants pass rush is getting nowhere near Cutler. The Giants remain a very bad team with a ton of problems, but they have at least shown some signs of competence in the first half of this game.