Everything you’d want in a football game, except, oh, yeah, a Bears victory
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There was something for every kind of football fan in a thrilling, painful Bears-Giants game Sunday.
A touchdown pass by a wide receiver (the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr.) and by a running back (the Bears’ Tarik Cohen) for those who like flash.
A touchdown run by 332-pound Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks for those who believe William Perry never goes out of style.
A successful onside kick by the Bears and Cohen’s pass in the last, desperate gasps of regulation for those who like prayers answered.
A terrible timeout by the Bears’ Matt Nagy before halftime for those looking for further proof that football is the most over-coached sport in the history of forever.
And agony for those Bears fans who are in the zero-sum business of victory.
The Giants came away with a 30-27 overtime decision in a breathtaking game that took some of the wind out of their opponents’ sails.
There was no quit in these Bears. There was also no victory in them.
So the question is: Do you pat them on the back for a valiant comeback behind a backup quarterback, or do you take them to task for not winning a game they should have won?
Chase Daniel is a career backup for a reason. We found that out Sunday when he threw two interceptions and fumbled four times, losing one.
“I let my team down,’’ he said.
He wasn’t the reason the Bears lost Sunday, but he clearly wasn’t enough for them to win. And that’s OK. They rested Mitch Trubisky’s sore right shoulder for a reason. The risk in that decision was the loss of a winnable game at MetLife Stadium, and that’s exactly what happened. Right call, bad result.
The Bears are 8-4 because they couldn’t hold on to a 14-7 lead against a struggling team. Daniel had already done most of his damage by then, his pick-six to Alec Ogletree on the second play of the game accounting for the Giants’ touchdown.
This is where Nagy comes in, and not in a good way. The Giants were on their heels late in the first half after back-to-back sacks of Eli Manning by Leonard Floyd and Hicks. They seemed content to head to the locker room down by a touchdown. But Nagy called a timeout with 17 seconds left in the half for reasons that continue to elude common sense.
“I take responsibility for that,’’ he said later.
The Giants’ Saquon Barkley responded with a 22-yard run before going out of bounds, Rhett Ellison got out of bounds after a nine-yard reception and Aldrick Rosas nailed a 57-yard field goal as time expired to make it 14-10.
The Bears had dominated the game to that point. The defense had bottled up Manning.
But just like that, everything changed. Momentum. Emotion. Biorhythms. Whatever you want to call it. It all sprinted over to the Giants.
They struck first in the second half on Beckham’s 49-yard touchdown pass to Russell Shepard to go up 17-14. It looked like a wink at Nagy’s theme-park playbook, the one that had produced Hicks’ one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and the one that would produce Cohen’s touchdown pass in the final ticks of regulation.
A leopard can’t change its spots, and Nagy can’t change his offensive approach. The Bears ran the ball well for the first time all season, but it lasted a half. Once they got down, Nagy had Daniel slinging it. It’s impossible to know if the Bears would have found themselves down 24-14 had Jordan Howard kept bulldozing his way into the defense. But he got only two carries in the second half. And the Bears indeed ended up trailing by 10 points.
Then again, had they run more, we might have missed out on all the fun. The Giants led 27-17 with one minute, 49 seconds left in the game. And 1:49 later, they didn’t. The Bears squeezed in Cody Parkey’s 21-yard field goal, Parkey’s perfect onside kick that Beckham wanted no part of and the Chicago version of the Philly Special that helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl last season.
Daniel handed the ball to tight end Trey Burton, who flipped it to Cohen, who tossed it to Anthony Miller for a one-yard scoring pass. Game tied at 27 and 0:00 glowing on the clock.
That’s how you draw up a comeback, right?
The game ended the way it probably should have, with the Giants kicking a field goal in overtime and Daniel fumbling three times (all recovered by the offense) in a stalled drive.
The Bears have a lot of heart. They most certainly were supposed to win Sunday’s game, but that can’t take away from what they did after a rainy day in New Jersey turned even darker.
“I absolutely love this team,’’ Nagy said. “I love where we’re at. This is life, man. How are you going to rebound back from it? Are you going to sulk or you going to pick it back up, go practice, go play and learn? And that’s what we’re going to do.’’