EAST RUTHERFORD,N.J. — The offense woke up, the defense was solid and special teams was outstanding. The New York Giants had a near perfect night against the Chicago Bears, except for the season-ending knee injury to starting cornerback Terrell Thomas.
Thomas tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee with 22 seconds left in the first half Monday, and the injury to New York’s leading tackler last season overshadowed an impressive 41-13 preseason win.
“It’s devastating,” defensive captain Justin Tuck said in a halftime interview with ESPN. “He was primed to have another great year for us. That’s a big void.”
The rest of the game was outstanding as the Giants (1-1) bounced back from a so-so performance against Carolina with a very good effort against the Bears (1-1).
Brandon Jacobs scored on an 18-yard run and Domenik Hixon caught a 5-yard touchdown pass as the New York cashed in on big special teams plays.
David Carr, who is battling Sage Rosenfels for the backup job to Eli Manning, threw for two touchdowns, with the second covering 17 yards to Daniel Coats in the fourth quarter.
D.J. Ware scored on a 1-yard run early in the third quarter to give New York a 27-6 lead and rookie halfback Da’Rel Scott had a 97-yard run in the closing minutes after cancer survivor Mark Herzlich intercepted a pass near the goal line.
Robbie Gould had field goals of 23 and 42 yards for the Bears, who struggled again on offense despite having Jay Cutler (12 of 21 for 171 yards) play the entire first half. Chicago got its only touchdown in the final minute on a 1-yard run by Kahlil Bell.
The key for the Giants against the defending NFC North champions was their usually sub-par special teams.
Devin Thomas set up Jacobs’ touchdown with a 73-yard kickoff return and rookie linebacker Greg Jones blocked a Spencer Lanning punt late in the second quarter, giving New York the ball at the 6.
Carr found Hixon on a fade pattern for the receiver’s first catch in the New Meadowlands Stadium since tearing an ACL in a practice here in June 2010.
Thomas, who is in the final year of his contract, then was hurt on the very next play from scrimmage.
Down 20-6 with 35 seconds to play, Cutler went back to pass from his own 23 and rolled a little to his left. Thomas came on a blitz and Jason Pierre-Paul rushed from his end spot. Cutler got the pass off and Thomas and Pierre-Paul collided, with the second-year end hitting Thomas around the knee from an awkward angle.
Thomas went down and he started hobbling when he got back up. He quickly went down the artificial surface and was treated by trainers and medical personnel for a couple of minutes. When he got up, he walked gingerly to the locker room. The suddenness of the diagnosis stunned his coach and teammates.
Veteran Aaron Ross will be asked to step into the starting role, joining Corey Webster as the starting cornerback. First-round draft pick Prince Amukamara broke his foot early in camp and won’t be available until about mid-October.
Ware’s touchdown came a play after a challenge by Giants coach Tom Coughlin resulted in a fumble call being reversed. Rhys Lloyd added field goals of 25 and 37 yards, subbing for the injured Lawrence Tynes.
After failing to get a first down on either of their first two series, the Giants took a 3-0 lead by holding the ball for almost 7 1/2 minutes before settling for Lloyd’s 25-yard field goal. The key play on the 11-play drive was a 21-yard fourth-down Eli Manning pass to Victor Cruz that gave New York a first down at the Bears 11.
The Bears tied the game on the next series with a quick six-play drive that started with Cutler passes of 37 yards to Devin Hester and 42 to Matt Forte. Gould kicked a 23-yard field goal after the drive stalled at the 5-yard line.
The kickoff return by Thomas set up Jacobs’ go-ahead touchdown on a play that Manning (8 of 16 for 78) changed at the line of scrimmage. Jacobs finished with 48 yards on six carries.