EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Bears’ first-and-10 play from the Giants’ 23 early in the second quarter played out perfectly.
Running back Tarik Cohen raced out of the backfield and past safety Landon Collins down the left seam. All that was needed was a good throw from backup quarterback Chase Daniel. It didn’t have to be perfect. Cohen was several steps behind Collins.
But the Bears didn’t get it. Daniel was intercepted by linebacker Alec Ogletree, who made a leaping, one-handed catch.
“I threw that ball pretty quickly, and to me, it was screaming ‘wide open,’ ’’ Daniel said after the Giants’ 30-27 victory in overtime Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
It was a wet and wild game in New Jersey. The Bears’ two-score rally in the final 1:13 to force overtime shouldn’t diminish everything that transpired before it.
The Bears lost to an average-at-best Giants team for a multitude of reasons, but No. 1 is because their No. 1 quarterback was inactive for the second consecutive game because of his ailing right shoulder.
Mitch Trubisky hasn’t been perfect this season. But he likely makes that throw to Cohen down the left seam. At worst, it would had been an overthrow. Instead, the Bears watched Daniel lose sight of Ogletree in coverage.
The decision to sit Trubisky was made with his and the team’s long-term future in mind. The Bears will need him against the Rams, Packers and Vikings. But Trubisky’s absence still changed the complexion of the Bears’ matchup with the Giants.
“He’s feeling better,” coach Matt Nagy said. “His arrow is going up every day, he feels like, and you can see [that] when he’s throwing. So we’ll continue to keep our fingers crossed.”
The Bears should have been able to handle the Giants without Trubisky. But defensive gaffes and Daniel’s shaky performance marred a game that went from ugly to unbelievable and back to ugly.
“It’s going to take me a while to get over this,” Daniel said.
That’s what happens when you fumble four times, including three in overtime.
“It was wet, but that’s not an excuse,” Daniel said. “As an offense, especially as a quarterback, your No. 1 job is to take care of the football. And I didn’t do that today. I let my team down. I’ll be the first one to say that.”
Daniel’s first pass was intercepted by Ogletree and returned eight yards for a touchdown less than a minute into the game.
“I thought he was blitzing,” Daniel said. “He made a good play.”
It was the beginning of a topsy-turvy day for Daniel, who was sacked five times by a defense that had the second-fewest sacks in the NFL coming into Week 13. He was 26-for-39 passing for 285 yards and a two-yard touchdown to tight end Adam Shaheen late in the first quarter.
That touchdown came during a drive that nearly was ended with an interception by Giants safety Curtis Riley, but he dropped Daniel’s long, errant throw that was intended for receiver Taylor Gabriel but was nowhere near him.
A typical practice week didn’t appear to help Daniel, who started back-to-back games for the first time since college. He was more efficient in the Bears’ 23-16 victory against the Lions on Thanksgiving after only two walkthroughs.
“We weren’t really in rhythm, [and] we weren’t getting first downs,” Nagy said. “Starting the game with a pick-six is not how you want to start it. But to his credit and the rest of the guys’ credit, they figured out a way to give us a chance at the end of the game as hard as it felt throughout the game.
“I appreciate how Chase has been this whole time. It’s who we are as a team, and I’ll never put a win or a loss on one guy.”
But one guy still could have made a major difference. The Bears’ playoff push is next, and it’s time for Trubisky to return.