CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears saw an opponent with a championship in its recent history, not a team searching for its first victory.
That made them just a little apprehensive about this game.
Turns out, they had good reason.
Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall, and Tim Jennings had two of Chicago’s three interceptions against Eli Manning in a 27-21 victory over the New York Giants on Thursday night.
The Bears (4-2) snapped a two-game slide following a 3-0 start. New York is 0-6 for the first time since the 1976 team dropped its first nine, a stunning turn for a franchise that won the Super Bowl two years ago.
“They’re fighters,” Chicago’s Lance Briggs said. “We’ve got a fighting team. That’s a Tom Coughlin-coached team. They’re going to come out well-prepared, and they executed well.”
The Giants came in clinging to the belief they could claw their way back into the NFC East race because every team in the division has a losing record. It’s hard to see that happening the way they’re playing.
“We’re all sick of it,” Coughlin said. “We’re all sick of losing, but we put ourselves in this position. There is only one way to get out of it.”
Cutler and Marshall were in tune early on, connecting for two touchdowns, and Jennings returned an interception 48 yards for a score as Chicago built a 24-14 halftime lead.
The Bears were up by 13 when New York’s Brandon Jacobs ran it in from the 1 in the closing seconds of the third quarter after Jennings got called for interference against Hakeem Nicks near the goal line. That cut it to 27-21, but Jennings made up for it in a big way when he picked off an overthrown pass by Manning intended for tight end Brandon Myers at the 10 with 1:54 left in the game.
Cutler was 24 of 36 for 262 yards after throwing for 358 against New Orleans last week. Marshall played a huge role in this one after venting over a lack of catches against the Saints, finishing with nine receptions for 87 yards. Martellus Bennett had 68 yards on six catches against his former team, while Alshon Jeffery had just one reception after going off for a franchise-record 218 yards in the previous game.
Robbie Gould kicked two field goals, including a 52-yarder in the third quarter that gave him 12 straight conversions from 50 or longer, and the Bears eased at least a few nerves, even if this win came against one of the NFL’s four winless teams
Manning, the owner of two championship rings, completed 14 of 26 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown, but he ran his league-leading total to 15 interceptions while matching last season’s number. He had passes picked off on the first two possessions, with Jennings’ 48-yard TD coming on the second one.
“I feel bad for my teammates. I feel bad for my coaches and everybody, fighting every day, and I’m fighting, too,” Manning said. “I am trying to get a win for these guys.”
Rueben Randle had 75 yards receiving and a touchdown for New York. Jacobs, starting for the injured David Wilson, ran for 106 yards and two scores, but the Giants fell yet again.
Here are five things to know about the Bears’ win over the Giants:
MARSHALL’S ROLE: Marshall was no decoy this time, and he had to like that. He had 65 yards in the first half, catching 10-yard and 3-yard touchdown passes from Cutler.
INTERIOR SHORTAGE: As if the Bears didn’t have enough injuries on defense, add middle linebacker D.J. Williams to the list. He left with a chest injury in the third quarter. The Bears were already without defensive tackle Stephen Paea (turf toe), who missed his second straight game. They also lost starting defensive tackle Henry Melton and his replacement Nate Collins to season-ending knee injuries, forcing the Bears to do some major shuffling on the interior. Corey Wootton had to move inside from defensive end and Julius Peppers to see time there. Besides the shortages inside, they were without Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman, who sat out with a knee injury.
ON THE RUN: Last in the league in rushing and without a 100-yard game as a team, the Giants finally got their run game going. Jacobs had his best game since he ran for 116 yards against Minnesota on Dec. 13, 2010, and he certainly was not a likely candidate for a big performance. He was making his first start since the end of 2011 season with the Giants, and he barely played last year with San Francisco because of injuries and a clash with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
NO GIANT CHANGES: Coach Tom Coughlin said no major changes are coming for the Giants, whose next game is against Minnesota on Oct. 21. “What changes do we want to make?” he said. “I don’t see it. I’ll look at everything and evaluate everything.”
HIGHLY RATED: Cutler now has back-to-back games with a passer rating of at least 100. He posted a 106.5 mark against the Giants after a 128.1 rating versus New Orleans and has been below 90 only once this season.
NOTES: Devin Hester became the Bears’ career leader in kickoff return yards. He has 4,643 after running back three for 73 yards. … Bears coach Marc Trestman had no update on Williams, who left the game with a chest injury, but did say Tillman probably would have been available had they played on Sunday. … Giants RB Da’Rel Scott injured a hamstring on a 13-yard run on New York’s final possession. … Wilson and center David Baas missed the game because of neck injuries, while cornerback Corey Webster sat out his fourth in a row because of a groin problem.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org