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Bears held out of end zone in loss to Giants | Quick Hits

Chicago Bears
04 Oct 2022, 00:37 GMT+10

Larry Mayer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It was a frustrating Sunday afternoon at blustery MetLife Stadium for the Bears, who failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season in a deflating 20-12 loss to the Giants.

Michael Badgley, an emergency kicker who was signed Saturday, provided all of the Bears' points, booting all four field goals he attempted from 29, 22, 40 and 35 yards. He replaced Cairo Santos, who missed the contest due to a personal issue.

The Bears were forced to settle for field goals on all three of their red-zone possessions in the game, with those drives stalling at the Giants' 11, 4 and 17. The kicks came, respectively, after a Justin Fields incompletion on third-and-7, Khalil Herbert was stopped for a 1-yard gain on third-and-2 from the 5 and Cole Kmet was dropped for a three-yard loss on a third-and-6 completion from the 14.

"We've just got to execute better," said center Sam Mustipher. "That's what it comes down to, especially in the red zone. It's just executing the plays that are called and punching the ball in. Can't settle for field goals down there."

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After Badgley's 35-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half cut the deficit to 14-9, the Bears offense sputtered on its final five possessions of the game, failing to cross the 50 while producing just one first down. The unit converted five of its first nine third-down plays before failing on its final six opportunities.

"We've just got to make sure we're doing everything we're coached to do and going out there and running the plays that are called," Mustipher said. "The fronts they gave us was stuff we expected. We've just got to do a better job of handling it."

Ground up: The Bears defense still has not allowed a second-half touchdown this season, holding the Giants to a pair of Graham Gano fields goals over the final 30 minutes. But a unit that entered Week 4 tied for 30th in the NFL against the run once again was gashed on the ground.

The Bears run defense permitted a season-high 262 yards and two touchdowns on 44 attempts, with Giants star running back Saquon Barkley gaining 146 yards on 31 carries, including 90 yards on 12 attempts in the first half.

"It was definitely a challenge," said linebacker Roquan Smith. "He came out and played a great game. There were a lot of mistakes on our behalf. We've just got to get better from it, grow from it. He's a heck of a player, but that's no excuse. We've just got to all get better and look ourselves in the mirror, including myself."

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones repeatedly faked out the Bears defense with play-action bootlegs. Jones scored TDs on runs of 21 and 8 yards on similar plays in the first half, faking handoffs to Barkley to the right and running back to his left.

"Those guys had a good game plan and they got some plays on us," said Smith, who led the Bears with 10 tackles. "We've just got to learn from them. It was just good on their behalf and us just not sticking to our keys. That's what it all comes back down to, sticking to your keys. If you do that, you'll have a great shot at stopping them. But hats off to those guys. They played a great game and we didn't finish the way we wanted."

Catch this: Receiver Darnell Mooney was more involved in the offense Sunday, catching four passes for 94 yards after producing just four catches for 27 yards in the first three games. But that was of little consolation to him given the final score.

"I don't care about yards," Mooney said. "I don't care about how many yards I get on the season. I just want to win. We didn't win today, so [I'm] upset."

Mooney generated the offense's longest play of the season, hauling in a 56-yard bomb from Fields on the first play of the Bears' second possession to set up Badgley's second field goal, which cut the deficit to 7-6.

Inauspicious debut: Making his NFL debut after missing the first three games with a hamstring injury, rookie Velus Jones Jr. made a costly mistake.

With the Bears trailing 20-12, the Giants punted from their own 7 with 2:13 remaining in the game. Jones muffed the punt and New York recovered.

"He's going to be hurt about it," Mooney said. "No one wants to drop the ball. But he'll be fine. He'll be good. We'll have our arms around him. He'll be fine. He's going to take one to the crib next week, so everybody will forget about this one."

Jones, a third-round pick from Tennessee, had three other touches in the game-a pair of 22-yard kickoff returns and a 19-yard punt return.

New life: After Jones' miscue, the Giants had an opportunity to ice the win. But Gano missed a 37-yard field goal attempt that would have made it a two-score game, hitting the left upright with just :17 remaining.

On the Bears' final play, which came from their own 33 with :02 left, Fields threw a 2-yard pass to Trestan Ebner. A series of desperation laterals and fumbles followed, with the ball being touched by receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, Fields again, St. Brown again, Ebner again, left guard Lucas Patrick, Fields for a third time, right guard Teven Jenkins, tight end Cole Kmet and Ebner for a third time before the ball was recovered by the Giants at the Bears' 28.

Early exit: Bears left guard Cody Whitehair exited with a knee injury in the first half and did not return. Patrick, who had started at right guard, moved to left guard with Jenkins playing the rest of the way at right guard.

Special play: Undrafted rookie Josh Blackwell generated a momentum-swinging takeaway late in the first half. After the Giants extended their lead to 14-6, the Bears went three-and-out on their subsequent possession and were forced to punt.

Blackwell tackled punt returner Richie James, forcing a fumble that Blackwell recovered among a pile of bodies at the Giants' 35 with 3:48 left in the half. The turnover set up Badgley's 40-yard field goal that drew the Bears to within 14-9.

"I hit him and the ball popped out," Blackwell said. "I thought [teammate] Jaylon Jones had it. I was pointing, and then the ball squirted out right to me."

Blackwell was eager to celebrate but had to remain patient.

"I was just waiting for everybody to get up off me so I could show I had it," said the Duke product. "It was a cool feeling though."

It was unquestionably the biggest play of Blackwell's brief NFL career.

"[It was] huge, because at this point my biggest role is special teams," he said. "If I can make any kind of play on special teams to help the team, it's beneficial in my eyes."

Aches & pains: The Giants were decimated by injuries Sunday. In the second half, both of their active quarterbacks were forced to exit. Late in the third quarter, Jones hurt his ankle and was replaced by Tyrod Taylor. On New York's next possession, Taylor left to be evaluated for a concussion following a big hit by Kyler Gordon.

Jones re-entered the game, lining up wide left while Barkley took snaps out of the Wildcat formation on three straight plays. Jones then returned under center and handed off on each of the Giants' final eight snaps of the game.

That makes three: Bears safety Eddie Jackson registered his third interception in four games this season, making an impressive over-the-shoulder catch of a long Taylor pass at the Bears' 7 early in the fourth quarter.

On the shelf: Running back David Montgomery (ankle), cornerback Jaylon Johnson (quad), tight end Ryan Griffin (Achilles), linebacker Matt Adams (hamstring) and safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring) sat out with injuries. Guard Ja'Tyre Carter was also inactive.

This and that: Despite Montgomery's absence, the Bears rushed for 149 yards on 32 carries, with Herbert running for 77 yards on 17 attempts, Fields gaining 52 yards on seven carries and Ebner adding 20 yards on six attempts ... Jaquan Brisker registered the Bears' only sack of the game on a third-quarter blitz. It was the first of the rookie second-round pick's NFL career ... Trenton Gill averaged a stellar 51.8 net yards on five punts, three of which landed inside the 20.

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