Bowman steps up in Tillman's absence
It didn't take long for cornerback Zack Bowman to make himself at home in the Bears' defense, which prides itself on takeaways.
Bowman, who started in place of two-time Pro Bowler Charles Tillman, intercepted Eli Manning on the third play from scrimmage. It was just Bowman's fifth start in four years, but he started 12 games for the Bears in 2009. That season, his second in the league, Bowman led the Bears with 6 interceptions.
“Nobody on this defense is the star of the defense,” said cornerback Tim Jennings, who had the Bears' other 2 interceptions. “It's just coming in and doing your job.”
Tillman, who has been banged up for most of the season but still started the first five games, missed his first game since the 2009 season finale.
The Bears didn't look at the Giants' 0-5 record going into Thursday night's game.
“It was a tough game and not anything we didn't expect,” said defensive end Julius Peppers, who played some snaps at tackle because of injuries. “That team has a lot of good players, and we respect all our opponents. We don't look at records.”
The injuries to Nate Collins and Stephen Paea forced undrafted rookies Zach Minter and David Bass onto the field as backups.
“They played well enough for us to win,” Peppers said. “It was important just to get the win, period.”
Righting the ship:
A couple losses in a row were not enough to intimidate Marc Trestman because he's been a part of teams in the past that went through a rough patch but regrouped in time to have successful seasons teams.
Most recently, when he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Oakland, the Raiders went 36 days without a victory, losing four straight to fall to 2-4. But that team only lost once more before losing to the Bucs in Super Bowl XXXVII.
“We pulled out of it there,” Trestman said. “And when I was in Cleveland (as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 1989), we lost the whole month of November and wound up in the (AFC) championship game as well.”
Trestman has learned that staying the course is the way to navigate through slumps.
“The key is you keep doing the things you know are right,” he said. “You keep working on the things to make the corrections. You stay even-keeled. You don't lose your mind.”
Foot in the door:
Undrafted rookie defensive end Davis Bass saw his first playing time of the season in Week 5, getting 14 snaps in passing situations and grading out second highest among Bears defensive linemen according to Pro Football Focus.
“We like the reps that he took for us,” defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. “He kept it simple. He'll get what his work deserves. We tell him to complete to play and complete to stay, and he's come in here and he's competed well.”
Bass got in the game on the Giants' first possession and saw action in nickel situations and had 2 tackles.
By the numbers:
Despite slow starts the past two games, the Bears had outscored their opponents 41-23 in the first quarter through five games. They had been outscored 72-37 in the second quarter and 30-16 in the third quarter but held a 51-15 advantage in the final 15 minutes.
The Bears trailed the Saints 13-0 last week and never got closer than 6 points.
“We don't want to put ourselves in a position like we did last week,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We've got a bad taste in our mouths from that.”
The Bears' only first-quarter points came from the defense, but by halftime the offense had 227 total yards and the Bears led 24-14.