Bears second half fade leads to another “L”

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Jay Cutler’s last-ditch attempt to rally the Chicago Bears to a game-winning score ended with an interception as the New York Giants held on for a 22-16 victory over the Bears at blustery MetLife Stadium in New Jersey Sunday afternoon. The Bears fell to 2-8 on the season while the Giants won their fifth straight to move to 7-3.

The Bears had life on the game’s final possession when Cutler hit Josh Bellamy for a 20-yard gain to the New York 30. But on the ensuing play, Cutler was hit and stripped, resulting in a Bears recovery but substantial loss of yardage and field position.  Cutler then underthrew Marquess Wilson on the following play and Giants safety Landon Collins easily secured the ball to end the threat and effectively, the game.

“This one’s going to be hard to swallow,” said Cutler who started fast but, like the rest of the team, finished slow. “These games that you lose and you definitely have a chance to win, those are the ones that keep you up at night.” Cutler completed 17-of-30 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown, a 19-yard dart to TE Zach Miller that started the day’s scoring.

After jumping out to a 16-6 lead and holding a 16-9 halftime advantage, the Bears offense found things difficult in the second half. Giants defenders crowded the box, stifling the Chicago ground game, then brought pressure on passing downs that a makeshift Bears offensive line couldn’t contain.

Giants QB Eli Manning was resourceful and accurate, sidestepping pressure at times to find an open receiver. New York tied the contest on the opening possession of the second half, then moved ahead on a crisp, 7-play, 79-yard drive that culminated when Manning found rookie WR Sterling Sheppard for a 15-yard touchdown.

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As has been the case for most of a disastrous 2016 campaign, the Bears were hit with injuries. Rookie OLB Leonard Floyd sustained what appeared to be the most serious when he collided with a teammates thigh and had to be immobilized and carted off the field. In the lone good news of the day, Floyd was released from a local hospital and was able to accompany the Bears on their plane trip home.

In addition to Floyd, Chicago lost Miller to a broken foot sustained right before the half, rookie CB Cre’Von LeBlanc suffered a concussion, and G Josh Sitton injured an ankle.

For 30 minutes, it appeared as though the Bears were in control. Mixing in a run-pass balance that saw Cutler displaying sound judgment and pinpoint accuracy while rookie RB Jordan Howard m

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oved the chains, Chicago’s offense was running on all cylinders.

But the Bears squandered several opportunities to either score or turn back the Giants. K Connor Barth missed an extra-point and a 51-yard field goal, Howard dropped several passes, one that could have given the Bears a huge first down in the closing minutes, Bellamy mishandled a muffed punt that bounced into his chest, and Bears defenders failed to come up with interceptions when they were within reach.

All of it adds up to another close loss in a season full of missed opportunities. The Bears host an unpredictable Tennessee squad next Sunday at Soldier Field.

Extra-Points: The Bears are 0-6 on the road thus far this season…..Chicago fell to 2-8 for the first time since 2008……Former Bears K Robbie Gould converted a 46-yard attempt, but missed two extra points….Howard rushed 17 times for 77-yards….The Bears didn’t record a sack, testimony to the Giants strong pass protection. Manning has been sacked the fewest times of any NFL QB other than Oakland’s Derek Carr….LB Danny Trevathan was credited with 11 tackles unofficially to lead the Bears.

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