EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. —Sunday will haunt Jay Cutler more than his five-alarm, four-turnover tire fire the week before.
“These games that you lose and you definitely have a chance to win,” he said, “those are the ones that keep you up at night.”
Outside the city that never sleeps, Cutler ensured that he won’t, losing to the Giants, 22-16.
It was a car wreck of a contest for the 2-8 Bears; first-round pick Leonard Floyd was carted off the field after suffering a fourth-quarter neck injury and tight end Zach Miller broke his right foot in the second quarter, likely ending his season.
Perhaps the Bears offensive veteran least likely to be on the team next year, Cutler is, after Sunday, the last one standing.
“Obviously, injuries are part of the game,” Cutler said. “We’re in a situation where we’ve got to replace them with somebody. But, you know, they’re starting to add up pretty quickly.”
The Giants took their first lead on Sterling Shepard’s third-quarter, 15-yard touchdown catch. Bears left guard Josh Sitton injured his right ankle on the next play.
Four of the next five drives, the Bears went three-and-out. On the fifth, Connor Barth hit the right upright on a 51-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.
Their last, best, chance came with three minutes to play, down six and with the ball at their own 30.
Cutler found Marquess Wilson down the right sideline for his first catch this season, a 35-yarder. Two plays later, after a hold by Kyle Long’s injury replacement, Ted Larsen, Cutler completed a 23-yard pass to the little-used Josh Bellamy to reach the Giants’ 30. Jason Pierre-Paul beat fill-in tackle Mike Adams to sack Cutler, before Cam Meredith committed a false start. On second-and-29, Cutler’s back foot slipped and he lofted an interception to Landon Collins with 1:11 left.
“When the second half comes around, we just have to be the team to finish,” tackle Charles Leno said. “We gotta find that ‘it ‘inside of us and dig in.”
They had it to start the game, scoring three-straight times: on Miller’s 19-yard touchdown catch, followed by Barth’s missed PAT, a 40-yard Barth field goal and Jeremy Langford’s 1-yard plunge.
The Bears led, 16-6, but wouldn’t score again. Robbie Gould’s 46-yard field goal pulled the Giants within seven at halftime, and Will Tye’s nine-yard pass from Eli Manning tied to start the third quarter.
Running back Jordan Howard had 12 runs for 72 yards in the first half — and, as attrition mounted, five for five in the second. Cutler, who went 17-for-30 for 252 yards, had a first-half passer rating of 128 — and a second-half score of 40.1.
Cutler wouldn’t blame injury replacements —“That would be a disservice to the guys,” he said — but said the Giants “didn’t do many things differently.”
He characterized the Buccaneers’ embarrassment as one bad game. His play Sunday ensured it remained just that, albeit in another loss.
“I think it’s a bigger deal just because of where we are in the season and the struggles we’ve had,” he said. “This one’s going to be hard to swallow, too.”