Short week aside, it’s probably for the best that by the time you read this, Matt Nagy will already be at Halas Hall preparing for Thursday’s game in Detroit. It’s commendable that the Bears were able to hold serve at home – by no means a given this season – but their 19-14 win over the Giants offered little in terms of new insight or future optimism. In fact, the only real takeaway from Sunday’s victory is this: the Bears’ elite players are still elite, even if it takes playing a two-win Giants team as a reminder.
“That's what we're looking for. [Wins] are hard to come by in this league, and our guys did that,” Nagy said. “We'll grow off it. We don't have much time to look at it. We're moving on because we've got such a short week.”
The Bears don’t beat the Giants on Sunday without huge games from their two highest-paid players. On offense it was Allen Robinson, who finished the day with six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, while averaging over 21 yards per reception. Despite going over 100 yards for only the second time this season, Robinson’s been the lone consistent bright spot for the offense in 2019. He scored his fourth touchdown of the season with an impressive individual effort in the 3rd quarter; Robinson adjusted to an under-thrown ball, grabbed the ball at his shins, then carried cornerback Corey Ballentine seven yards into the end zone:
“I was actually glad that he took me up top,” Robinson said of the play. “It wouldn’t have given me a chance to score if he had hit me low. We get a fine in the receivers room if we get tackled inside the 5, so I’m definitely glad he took me up top.
“I just tried to sell. Fortunately for me, out of the slot, I have a few different routes that I’m able to run. I tried to give him a certain look from something that I had run earlier in the game, and I was able to do that.”
Robinson mentioned that sometimes, like a hot hand in basketball, football players can just tell when big games are coming. He recognized a lot of what the Giants were trying to do schematically, which opened up big play opportunities. Only 18 of his 131 yards came in the first half, but as Robinson has shown this season, it’s more a matter of when than if.
“There's not many guys in this league, on the other side of the ball, that I feel like he's going to be at a disadvantage against,” Nagy added. “I really love the way he practices and plays. He's a really good one-on-one guy, and he also understands zones.”
On defense, of course, it was Khalil Mack’s day. After an unproductive month that had people weirdly wondering whether the Bears made a mistake trading for the All-Pro, Mack had the type of game that’s kept him in the conversation for best player in football over the last half decade. He had three tackles, two QB hits, a sack and a forced-fumble. The latter two, which came on the same play, gave the Bears the ball inside the Giants’ 5-yard line in a one-score game:
Mitch Trubisky ran the ball in for a touchdown two plays later, which would end up being the game-winning score. As Eddie Jackson put it after the game, “when you give him a one-on-on, you see what he’s capable of doing. We’re going to put our money on Mack every time.”
“Finally got singled up,” Mack added. “I had to make the most of the opportunity.
“Turnovers are huge, especially down the stretch. It’s no surprise that that one was a huge play down the stretch for us, and that’s what we needed to win the game.”
Only allowing two scores is notable, but the job that Mack and the Bears’ defense did on stud running back Saquon Barkley (17 rushes for 59 yards) may be the more impressive feat. It’s also probably why most of them spent a little extra time in, as Mack referred to it, a “cold tub party” after the game. Thursday’s Thanksgiving matinee is only three days away, and even though the Bears are familiar with this routine, playing two NFL games in the same work week never gets easier.
“I think for us time is of the essence,” Nagy said. “There's no time here, so we have to get rolling.”
“It’s all about understanding what a short week is,” Mack added. “And then getting your body ready for it, then your mindset ready for it … it’s a part of the game.”