EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants’ defense delivered a knockout punch that sent Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears reeling from the unbeaten ranks.
The Giants knocked out Cutler (concussion) with a nine-sack first half, sent his replacement to the sideline late in the fourth quarter and limited Chicago to 110 total yards in a 17-3 victory on Sunday night.
“It’s fun to watch our defense when they are doing that,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. “When they get the sacks, it gets the crowd fired up. They set the tempo early on in the game, played outstanding. We had to help them out sometime and we did a decent job.”
The win left the NFL with only one undefeated team.
Can you say, or believe the idle Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)?
The Giants (2-2) did just enough on offense to beat the Bears (3-1), with the best thing being they didn’t turn the ball over much until the fourth quarter.
It was just what the Giants needed after a week in which many wondered whether coach Tom Coughlin was losing the team after a disappointing 2009 season and two straight bad games.
The defense answered with a resounding ‘No’ and the offense went along for the ride in a so-so effort against the Monsters of the Midway.
Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown against a defense that had allowed 119 yards on the ground in its first three games and Lawrence Tynes kicked a 22-yard field goal as the Giants snapped a two-game losing streak.
Brandon Jacobs, whose fourth-quarter fumble inside his own 30 set up Robbie Gould’s 40-yard field goal for Chicago, capped the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run with 4:31 to play.
On a night the Giants inducted 22 of their greatest players into their new Ring of Honor, including Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson, this defense emulated some of the great ones of the Giants’ 86-year history.
The Giants’ defense performance ranged on spectacular both in appearance and statistically.
New York limited the Bears to six first downs, did not allow a third-down conversion in 13 attempts and forced three turnovers in addition to the 10 sacks.
“You get pressured like that, it’s tough to do anything,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
The sack total was two shy of the league record, which the Giants tied in 2007 in a Sunday night game against Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles. Osi Umenyiora had six that night. He had three against Chicago.
Cutler and Todd Collins paid the price. Cutler was sacked nine times in the first half and suffered a concussion and did not return. The veteran Collins took over in the second half and lasted until about four minutes remained in the game.
That’s when he was sent to the sideline with a stinger after taking a blindside hit from linebacker Michael Boley.
Smith then sent out No. 3 quarterback Caleb Hanie and he got sacked by Justin Tuck for New York’s 10th and final sack with about three minutes to play. Tuck also had three sacks.
The Giants took an early 3-0 lead, driving 76 yards in 11 plays with Tynes hitting the chip-shot field goal.
New York didn’t take control until the third quarter when Manning (18-of-30 for 195 yards) engineered an eight-play 90 yard drive that featured passes of 21 yards to Hakeem Nicks and 25 to tight end Travis Beckum. Bradshaw had runs of 13 and 25 yards before capping the drive with a 3-yard run on which his line seemed to shove him into the end zone.
The Giants led 3-0 at the half and the margin certainly should have been more.
Perry Fewell’s defense limited the Bears to 22 yards, two first downs and sacked Cutler an amazing nine times and forced two turnovers that gave the Giants the ball twice inside the Bears 30-yard line.
Tynes missed a 38-yard field goal wide left after an interception by Terrell Thomas gave New York the ball at the Bears 28.
Instead of going for the knockout punch with a 3-0 lead, the Giants called a run by Bradshaw and two Manning passes, the last one on a third-and-2 play to Kevin Boss that would not have gotten a first down.
Early in the second quarter, Umenyiora caught Cutler from the blindside and got his third sack of the half, forcing a fumble that was recovered at the Chicago 29.
Three plays and false start against guard Chris Snee pushed the Giants back to the 34 and New York was forced to punt.