CHICAGO — After nearly blowing a 13-point lead in the second half, the Chicago Bears snapped a two-game losing streak with a 27-21 win over the Giants on Thursday, riding out a nail-biting final New York drive.
The Bears (4-2) took sole possession of first place in the NFC North for at least two more days, while the Giants absorbed another gut-wrenching loss. New York fell to 0-6 amid a frustrating start to the season marred by costly injuries and head-scratching mistakes — including three interceptions thrown by quarterback Eli Manning at Soldier Field.
Two of them wound up in the hands of Bears cornerback Tim Jennings, who returned the first 48 yards for a touchdown — his second “pick-six” of the season. Jennings hauled in the second at the Bears 10-yard line with 1:54 left to play and Chicago clinging to six-point lead.
Jennings snagged the ball after it went through tight end Brandon Myers’ hands in yet another vexing display of futility by the Giants.
The teams combined for 727 yards of total offense (372 for Chicago and 355 for New York), with both quarterbacks leading the way. Jay Cutler completed 24 of 36 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns for the Bears, who also got a big game out of top receiver Brandon Marshall (nine catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns).
Prior to Jennings’ game-clinching pickoff, Manning rebounded from throwing interceptions to end the Giants’ first two possessions. He wound up completing 14 of 26 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown. Veteran Brandon Jacobs scored two rushing touchdowns and churned out 106 yards on 22 carries.
After extending a 10-point halftime lead to 27-14 on Robbie Gould’s 52-yard field goal to start the third quarter — his 12th straight successful attempt from longer than 50 yards — the Giants made things interesting. Manning directed a nine-play, 91-yard scoring drive that Jacobs finished with his second TD run — a 1-yard plunge — to cut Chicago’s lead to 27-21 with six seconds left in the third.
He also led the Giants from their own 11 to the Bears’ 36 before Jennings’ heroics sealed the win.
After Rueben Randle tied it 14-14 with a 37-yard touchdown catch five minutes into the second quarter, the Bears scored the last 10 points of the half to take a 24-14 lead — surging back in front on Marshall’s second scoring grab and plus a late 40-yard field goal by Gould.
An action-packed first quarter ended with the score tied at 7 and the Bears knocking on the door again deep in the red zone to start the second quarter. Chicago capped the drive with a 10-yard TD pass from Cutler to Marshall that put the Bears up 14-7 after they took a quick 7-0 lead in the first on Jennings’ interception return. It was the second interception by the Bears against Manning in as many Giants possessions.
Zack Bowman, starting at corner in place of injured Charles Tillman, ruined the Giants’ first possession by picking off a Manning pass and returning it 24 yards to set the Bears up at the Giants 12. Chicago, however, didn’t get points out of it after rolling the dice on fourth-and-2 at the New York 4-yard line.
Marshall couldn’t haul in Cutler’s short pass about a yard short of the goal line, but the three points the Bears passed up turned out to be a drop in the bucket in a game dominated by offense.
After Jennings’ score, the Giants knotted it at 7 with 3:48 left in the first quarter on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that Jacobs capped with a leg-pumping charge into the end zone from 4 yards. Jacobs racked up 53 yards on his first eight carries but gained just 4 yards on his next four attempts to finish the first half.
NOTES: The Bears played without Tillman (knee, groin) and DT Stephen Paea (turf toe), who were ruled inactive before the game after being listed as questionable all week. Bowman held down the right cornerback spot in place of Tillman, and Landon Cohen started for Paea. … The Giants played without starting RB David Wilson (neck), C David Baas (neck) and CB Corey Webster (groin). Jacobs started in place of Wilson, Jim Cordle replaced Baas and Terrell Thomas made the start at left cornerback for Webster. The 6-foot, 191-pound Thomas got the nod there instead of the smaller Trumaine McBride (5-9, 185), likely to match up with the size of Chicago’s starting receivers, Marshall (6-4, 230) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216). … Jon Beason, obtained by the Giants in a trade a week ago, also got into the starting lineup, replacing MLB Mark Herzlich. Damontre Moore (hamstring) was active despite being listed as doubtful leading up to the game. … The interception return for a touchdown by Jennings was his second of the year and third of the season by the Chicago defense, which has the most in the NFL (12) in the past two seasons. Six teams are tied for second in that category with five each.