Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this, mama said.
Good luck getting that one out of your head. You’re welcome.
Humming “Mama Said” from The Shirelles while hacking away in your cubicle is about as annoying as dropping a very winnable game against a dysfunctional opponent.
That said, there are quite a few annoyed Chicagoans around Halas Hall on Monday morning after the Bears let one slip through their hands in a 30-27 overtime loss to the New York Giants.
Hurry back, Mitch
In Sunday’s game, the Bears had ninety-nine problems but a Mitch ain’t one. (There you go. Bye-bye, Shirelles. Hello, Jay-Z.)
Chase Daniel’s second outing as fill-in quarterback in Mitch Trubisky’s stead was not nearly as satisfying as the Thanksgiving feast against the Lions ten days prior. Daniel was erratic and error-prone from the opening drive. Although, in fairness, he did sustain several long drives.
The Bears began the game backed up at their own 15-yard-line after kick returner Taquan Mizzell muffed the kickoff in the end zone and had to recover it at the 2. A Jordan Howard stuffed run pushed them back two yards farther. And then on second-and-twelve, Daniel telegraphed a throw out to the flat, tossing a perfect throw into the outstretched arms of Giants defender Alec Ogletree, which he returned for the opening touchdown of the game.
Forty-six seconds into the game, 7-0 G-Men.
Daniel went on to fumble the ball four times — although not losing any of them — and tossed a second interception to Ogletree early in the second quarter. Between the miscues, missed opportunities, and his inability to escape pressure in the pocket, Daniel clearly was a liability from the outset.
Bears fought back, took control of first half
One can make the argument that the Bears were the better team in the first half on Sunday. Following the opening possession blunder, that is.
The two teams exchanged three-and-outs twice in the first quarter before the Bears offense finally took command of the game.
Daniel, to his credit, led the Bears on a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive that culminated in a two-yard pass to tight end Adam Shaheen that tied the game at 7.
On the following possession, Kyle Fuller jumped in front of Odell Beckham to pick off Eli Manning near midfield. Five plays later, however, Daniel gave it right back on a woefully underthrown pass to Tarik Cohen. Had he led Cohen better, the pass would have gone for six.
The Bears and Giants again traded punts before the offense engineered another 9-play, 74-yard drive, that set up a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard-line. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks was sent into the game, a la William “The Refrigerator” Perry, and took the handoff from Daniel, plunging into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
Defense suffers lapses, gives momentum back to Giants
Beginning with the final drive of the second quarter and throughout the second half, the Bears defense suffered breakdowns that ultimately allowed the Giants to hang around and take control of the game.
Holding on to a 14-7 lead with under a minute to go in the first half, the Bears had the Giants backed up to their own 30-yard-line facing third down and 23 yards to go.
Hold ‘em and go into halftime feeling good, right?
Wrong. Rookie phenom Saquon Barkley broke off a 22-yard gain to set up a fourth-and-one near midfield. The Giants felt the momentum and the security of playing at home and went for it on fourth down. Manning completed a nine-yard pass that allowed kicker Aldrick Rosas to attempt — and convert — a 57-yard field goal to close the gap to 14-10 as time expired.
The next “letdown,” so to speak, occurred on the first possession out of halftime. The Giants drove the ball to midfield and decided to pull out a little trickery. Beckham received a toss on an end-around and the star receiver did a great job of deceiving the defense. After doing a little shimmy in the backfield and feigning a broken run play, he pulled up and tossed the ball to a wide-open Russell Shepard for a 49-yard, go-ahead touchdown.
He could have punted the ball to Shepard, he was that open.
The Bears offense went three-and-out on the next series before giving the ball back to the Giants offense. At which point, the Giants drove 60 yards on 13 plays, setting up a fourth-and-goal from the Bears’ 1-yard-line.
Once more, with nothing to lose and all the momentum on their side, the Giants went for it on fourth down. Manning found an uncovered Beckham in the back of the end zone to put the G-Men up, 24-14.
Bears offense wakes up, makes comeback
After trading punts to close out the third period, the Bears offense scored three times on four possessions in the fourth quarter to tie the game.
First, Daniel led the Bears on a 7-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a Cody Parkey 36-yard field goal.
After Taylor Gabriel fumbled on the Bears’ next possession and the Giants tacked on a field goal, it looked like hope was slipping away. The Bears were down 27-17 with 1:49 to play.
Daniel again brought the Bears back down the field, covering 72 yards on 7 plays. Rather than attempt a fourth-down conversion from the Giants’ 3-yard-line, the Bears kicked the field goal, knowing they needed two scores.
Down by 7 with 1:13 to play, Parkey set up for the onside kick. As he’s done with regularity since the beginning of last season — 5 of 6 times — Parkey converted on the onside attempt. Backup tight end Daniel Brown recovered it, giving the Bears fresh hope.
One last time, Daniel drove the Bears down the field, picking up third- and fourth-down conversions along the way. It set up a first-and-goal with three seconds on the clock.
That’s when Matt Nagy pulled out the “Philly Special.”
Daniel fielded the shotgun snap and handed it to Trey Burton in the backfield. Rolling left, Burton pitched it to Tarik Cohen who swept back to the right. Daniel had rolled out into the flat but was tightly covered by two defenders. However, due to the Giants’ focused attention on covering Daniel, it allowed Anthony Miller to break free and receive the pass from Cohen for the game-tying touchdown.
Bears’ new life fades fast in overtime
The kind of comeback that the Bears engineered in the fourth quarter is one that typically carries a team over the finish line. When that Parkey extra point sailed through the uprights and the teams were headed to overtime, there was little doubt in my mind that the Bears would win that game — or, at worst, end it in a tie.
I just thought, “there’s no way the defense allows the Giants to score here.”
So much for my gut feeling or prognostication skills.
On the first play of overtime, Barkley busted out a 29-yard gain to move the Giants offense to the Bears’ 46-yard-line. Seven plays later, the Giants tacked on a 44-yard Rosas field goal, forcing the Bears’ hand. No less than a touchdown or field goal was required on the ensuing drive to prevent a loss.
Unfortunately, the offense’s magic was gone. After a promising start to the drive — a seven-yard Howard run — Daniel fumbled the snap on second down, setting up a third-and-12. The Bears did convert on fourth down on that series, to their credit. But after a sack and fumble on the next set of downs, Daniel tossed an incomplete pass to Gabriel on fourth down to close out the game.
Giant loss a teeny bump in the road
Although it’s a game the Bears could — and should — have won, the loss to the Giants does not leave an indelible mark on the Bears’ season. It was discouraging, but not devastating. They missed an opportunity but it was not ultimately a setback.
It was not a good day for the NFC North as all four teams suffered losses. Thus, the Bears did not lose the lead they had entering the week. They maintain a 1.5-game advantage over the Vikings and have the tiebreaker by virtue of their Week 11 victory. The two teams will square off for the second time in Week 17. Which means, the Bears can’t afford to head into that contest nursing a one-game lead.
The Bears have contests against the vaunted Rams, the struggling Packers, the irrelevant 49ers and the divisional Vikings remaining on their schedule. Meanwhile, the Vikings face the Seahawks on the road, the Dolphins at home, and the Lions in Detroit before that showdown with the Bears.
It’s possible that final game will determine the winner of the North. But there is no reason to be resigned to that fate. While the Bears could go 1-3 in the final quarter of the season, they just as well could go 3-1 — or even 4-0 if they shock the Rams next week. (And hey, if the Cowboys can down the Saints, I’m not ruling anything out.)
My stance is, and always has been, let’s just take one game at a time. With Trubisky progressing and possible — probable? — to return to the lineup this week, there’s no reason to be tentative against the Rams. They’re a good offense, no doubt. But the Bears have a pass rush that can get after quarterback Jared Goff. And a Bears offense featuring Trubisky’s ability to evade the pass rush and keep plays alive, is a dangerous one.
I’m excited for Sunday night. It’ll be a playoff atmosphere and a golden opportunity for the Bears to test their mettle.