Ugly win by Bears, but that's OK
This was a victory the Bears can accept without apology, simply say thank you very much and move on to the rest of the NFL season.
The word that comes to mind is obligatory. The Bears were obligated to beat the Giants on Thursday night in Soldier Field, so that's what they did 27-21.
If a team ever needed the Giants to show up, it was the Bears, losers of their past two games after 3 consecutive victories to open the season.
The Giants are as bad as any team in the league except perhaps for Jacksonville, though a loser-take-all game between the two might be interestingly awful.
Not that the Bears looked like a playoff team. They were a little less bad than the Giants, a mere bounce of the ball away from disaster. Instead, Tim Jennings' interception with 1:54 left clinched the outcome.
“It wasn't pretty,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. “That's exciting because it gives us a chance to get better.”
The Bears played the Giants without cornerback Peanut Tillman, who was inactive with a couple nagging ailments. No big deal. Public sentiment was that shouldn't matter against the Giants.
The same applies to the absence of defensive tackles Stephen Paea (out indefinitely with a bum toe) and Henry Melton (out for the season with a bum knee).
“It was next man up all over our defense,” Trestman said.
Nothing should matter against the Giants, especially with them missing four starters to injuries. Evidence of that came early when quarterback Eli Manning threw 2 interceptions in the game's first 5:10, one returned for a touchdown by Jennings.
The Bears “settled” for 27 points on a night in which they were destined to score a lot of them against a team that yielded at least 31 in each of their first five games, all losses.
Make the Giants 0-6 now. This previously proud team is a “gimme” now, two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Tom Coughlin has way fewer answers than there are questions and Manning is ordinary at best in the context of the players surrounding him.
So the Bears could get away in this one with a defensive line that had starting tackles Corey Wootton — an end by trade — and Landon Cohen, signed off the street last week.
The Bears also did what they wanted on offense in the first half, scoring 24 points and appeasing wide receiver Brandon Marshall by targeting him eight times. After that, however, they left too many points on the field rather than the scoreboard.
“We were disappointed we couldn't finish the drives,” Trestman said.
Now the season gets really weird with the Bears playing one game during the next 24 days.
Here's the schedule: 10 days until playing at Washington on Oct. 20; a bye the weekend of Oct. 27; finally another game on Monday, Nov. 4 at Green Bay.
Maybe other teams have played one game over a period of 24 days — maybe many have — but it just seems mighty odd.
Regardless, rarity or not, the schedule could really work to the Bears' advantage in a variety of ways.
Perhaps foremost, players like Tillman and Paea will have time to get healthy if they ever will be.
Furthermore, the Bears will have time to search through prisons, semipro leagues and dead-end streets for players that might provide depth to the roster.
Finally, the coaching staff will be able to use additional practices to continue installing the new offense and tweaking the old defense.
“We're going to find things we can do to improve our football team,” Trestman said.
The Bears should arrive at Green Bay a different team than they were Thursday night. They'll have to be to beat the Packers, and even the Redskins in the interim.
Unfortunately for the Bears, not every opponent is the Giants.