Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall were simply too much to handle. So was Tim Jennings.
Cutler threw two touchdown passes to Marshall, and Jennings had two of the Chicago Bears’ three interceptions against Eli Manning in a 27-21 victory over the winless 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.
"We see things each and every week that tell us we cannot just be good, we can be very good," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "But we also know there’s a lot of work ahead."
The Giants came in clinging to the idea that 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," coach Tom 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 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.
"We won the game but we kind of leave a little bit unsatisfied because I think offensively we could have exploded for a little bit more," Cutler said.
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."
It’s not easy when he keeps throwing it to the other team. But the Giants aren’t about to go away from him.
"You’re not going to go back to not throwing the football. That’s not something that’s going to happen," Coughlin said. "He’s been too successful for so many years throwing the ball."
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.
Cutler threw for 179 yards in the first two quarters, Marshall had 65 and the Bears racked up 227 yards in the opening half. The Giants (212 yards) moved the ball in the early going but had trouble hanging onto the ball again — no surprise there.
After all, they came in leading the league with 20 turnovers. The Bears, who had 14 takeaways when the night began, quickly added to that total.
Zackary Bowman, starting for Charles Tillman (right knee injury), picked off a pass intended for Randle on the game’s third play from scrimmage at the 36 and returned it to the New York 12. The Bears came away empty-handed on an incomplete pass from Cutler to Marshall on fourth-and-2 at the 4, but they quickly grabbed the lead on the Giants’ next possession. Jennings got an easy interception on what looked like a miscommunication between Manning and Randle, returning it 48 yards for his second touchdown this season.
The Giants then drove 80 yards to tie it at 7, with Jacobs dragging Corey Wootton and Jennings as he plowed in on a 4-yard run. Marshall, wearing lime green shoes in honor of mental health awareness week, put the Bears back on top with a 10-yard TD catch in the opening minute of the second quarter to finish an 86-yard drive.
New York quickly tied it when Randle stayed inbounds along the sideline on a 37-yard TD catch, but Chicago immediately answered with an 80-yard scoring drive, with Cutler connecting with Marshall on a 3-yard pass to make it 21-14.
Gould added a 40-yarder in the closing seconds of the half to extend the lead to 10 after some curious clock management along the way. The Bears let the seconds tick away rather than use their final timeout or spike the ball before several plays.
Already short-handed, Chicago’s defense took another hit in the third quarter when middle linebacker D.J. Williams left the game with a chest injury. Chicago was also down a key piece in the secondary with Tillman missing his first game since the 2009 finale, and nose tackle Stephen Paea (turf toe) sat out his second straight game.
For the Giants, 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. Wilson injured his neck against Philadelphia last week, and Baas sat out his third straight.