Chase Daniel set the tone for his afternoon when he threw a pick-six to Alec Ogletree on the second play of the game. Daniel’s first read was a quick throw to Tarik Cohen in the flat, but he said he was fooled by Ogletree faking a pass rush and dropping into the passing lane. That play came only 46 seconds into the game.
Daniel was lucky to not throw his second interception earlier in the first quarter when he oddly sailed a deep ball toward Taylor Gabriel — who looked open going toward sideline — back to the middle of the field. Safety Curtis Riley dropped it, giving Daniel a break. He wasn’t so lucky on his second interception, when he saw Cohen running open toward the end zone but failed to spot Ogletree, who leapt to make an excellent pick.
The five sacks Daniel took were partly due to a desire to not force a throw, but there were some he shouldn’t have taken — like the one with just under a minute left in the fourth quarter that cost the Bears their final timeout. Daniel also fumbled three times on the Bears’ overtime possession, including two after getting to a second-and two, leading to a fourth-and-8 heave toward Gabriel that fell incomplete to end the game.
Saving Daniel from an F were the two impressive drives he engineered inside the two-minute warning to get the Bears near the goal line both times. Cody Parkey finished the first with a field goal, and Cohen finished the second with his “Oompa Loompa” pass to Anthony Miller to send the game to overtime. Also, earlier in the game, the one time Daniel did seem to be in rhythm, he smartly went up-tempo near the goal line to find Adam Shaheen for a two-yard touchdown.
RUNNING BACKS: A
Cohen almost single-handedly got the Bears back into this game, with five of his 12 catches and 73 of his 156 receiving yards coming on the final two possessions of regulation — plus his touchdown to Miller, on which he had to go to his second progression when Daniel was covered on a “Philly Special” play, of sorts. His longest reception of the day, too, went for 46 yards — and could’ve gone for a touchdown, potentially, when it wasn’t clear if safety Landon Collins bumped him to the ground or not on a deep ball from Daniel. He chipped in an 11-yard scamper on a fourth-and-1 early in the game, too.
Beyond Cohen’s virtuoso game, Jordan Howard had his best half of football, rushing 13 times for 69 yards in the first half. Why Nagy went away from him in the second half and overtime — he only had three more carries for seven yards — is worth questioning, even if the Giants did some thing to take away Howard (more on that later). Howard, it should be noted, had a few nice blocks in pass protection on Sunday.
Also, are we counting Akiem Hicks in this group? Because he scored a touchdown on “The Freezer Left,” which he said was the first time he’d ever had a rushing attempt in a game in his life.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C
Allen Robinson had three spectacular catches: The first, a slick toe drag to gain 12 yards on the first play of the second quarter; the second, a David Tyree-esque snag off cornerback B.W. Webb’s helmet that went for 30 yards and moved the Bears inside the 10 midway through the second. And the third was a 10-yard grab on fourth and seven in overtime that was the product of a tough, well-executed route and catch in traffic. That last one was his most impressive of the day, too.
Otherwise, this group didn’t do much in the way of positives. Gabriel, while he did draw a pass interference penalty in the end zone that set up Miller’s touchdown, only had three catches for 17 yards and lost a fumble the Giants turned into three points late in the fourth quarter. Miller was only targeted twice all game, and Bellamy committed more penalties on offense (two) than he had catches (one).
TIGHT ENDS: D+
Trey Burton was largely invisible during the game, only catching one pass for no gain that didn’t count due to a penalty on the Giants. Adam Shaheen did catch both passes thrown his way, including a two-yard touchdown, but this was a quiet day for this group.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C+
The Bears’ run blocking was better against the Giants than it had been all season, opening up some good lanes inside and setting the edge outside for Howard to have a strong first half. Still, five of Howard’s runs went for zero or negative yardage. This unit one did well to protect Daniel — of his five sacks, only one could’ve been pinned on the offensive line (when Daniel stepped up in the pocket in the third quarter and was met by B.J. Hill, who beat Bryan Witzmann). Charles Leno was beat on a rush on the second-to-last play of the game by Olivier Vernon, who forced a fumble. While Cody Whitehair had a low snap Daniel dropped in overtime, Daniel took responsibility for that miscue after the game.
DEFENSIVE LINE: C+
Hicks had a tremendous game, with a sack, two hits, a tackle for a loss and a pass break-up (in addition to his touchdown). This group did well to muddle up the middle and force the Giants to run Saquon Barkley outside — though they did that effectively, with four of his seven runs for five or more yards going outside the tackles. Still, that doesn’t mean the defensive line is exempt — Hicks was blocked up well on Barkley’s critical 29-yard run to begin overtime, which was a toss to the right.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: C+
Khalil Mack had a disruptive game, recording a sack (which took the Giants out of field goal range at a critical point in the fourth quarter) and eight total pressures, per Pro Football Focus. Leonard Floyd notched a sack and had his disruptive moments, too, and Aaron Lynch had a couple of stops in run defense.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS: C-
Roquan Smith again led the Bears in tackles (eight) and, like Danny Trevathan (six tackles) did some good things against the run. But this unit’s impact was limited in a game in which Barkley ran for 125 yards, the most allowed by the Bears’ defense all season.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: C+
Kyle Fuller had a strong game, jumping a route to intercept Eli Manning and breaking up two other passes. He was only targeted five times and allowed just 24 yards on three receptions. Other than Fuller’s day, though, this was a pedestrian afternoon for this unit — Eddie Jackson missed a tackle on a critical third-and-11 the Giants converted with about six minutes left, and there were two coverage breakdowns that led to Odell Beckham both throwing and catching touchdowns.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Taquan Mizzell’s issues returning kicks and a couple of penalties aside, this was a fantastic day for Chris Tabor’s group. Daniel Brown’s onside kick recovery was the product of tremendous execution on a low-percentage play, for starters. Pat O’Donnell had a good day punting, including a 65-yarder after the Bears went three-and-out deep in their own territory in the first quarter. Cohen had a nice 15-yard punt return, too, and Cody Parkey made all of his kicks (three PATs, two field goals).
Matt Nagy dialing up “Oompa Loompa” for the game-tying touchdown was a masterstroke of a play call — worry about “trick” plays all you want, the play worked, and that was with Cohen’s first read (Daniel) being taken out of the play. Prior to that, Nagy’s decision to kick a field goal instead of go for the touchdown with a 10-point deficit was the correct call, too. The string of fumbles that ultimately derailed the Bears’ overtime possession weren’t Nagy’s fault, either.
But beyond those positives, the second half of Sunday’s game felt like a rare occasion in 2018 in which Nagy and his staff were out-coached. It started with the Giants gaining momentum off Nagy’s decision to call timeout just before halftime, after which Barkley ran 22 yards on third-and-23 and the Bears’ defense blew a coverage, allowing Eli Manning to hit Rhett Ellison for a nine-yard gain and also get out of bounds. Those three points the Giants got at the buzzer were critical, and helped be a springboard with some good halftime adjustments (like getting the ball to Barkley on the edge, or the Beckham trick play passing touchdown).
Nagy’s playcalling rhythm felt a little off, too, partly because of Daniel’s struggles and partly because he abandoned the run in the second half. That move to get away from Howard did have something to do with how the Giants adjusted at halftime, but Nagy wasn’t able to counter it until the final few minutes of the game.
There were always going to be learning experiences for a first-year head coach along the way, and Sunday’s loss felt like one of them.