New York Giants: Five Players Who Stepped Up vs Chicago Bears
The New York Giants were able to win their seventh game of the season against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Who were five players that stepped up?
It was a not a pretty start on Sunday for the New York Giants. After beating the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, the Giants lacked effort early on against the Chicago Bears.
The lack of effort was very noticeable on the defensive side of the ball. On the Bears first three drives of the game, they were able to score two touchdowns and one field goal. After such a dominant showing against the Bengals, it took the Giants defense a half to wake up.
In the second half, the Giants looked like the team that we all thought would come to play on Sunday. In the third quarter, the Giants were able to score two touchdowns on their first two drives to retake the lead.
After the Giants took the lead, their gameplan went south. On their next five drives, the Giants would go three-and-out on three of the five. Due to some missed extra points by Robbie Gould, it was a still a one possession game when the Giants got conservative in the fourth quarter.
If not for the turnaround by the defense, the Giants easily could have suffered a horrible loss to the Bears. Despite the close call, the Giants did come away with the win. Here were five players who stepped up in the game against the Bears.
It wasn’t a great game for running back Rashad Jennings, but he was solid on the ground once again. On Monday Night Football against the Bengals, Jennings was able to ice the game for the Giants with some great runs. The Giants tried that same formula again against the Bears, but Chicago was prepared for it. Even though Jennings wasn’t able to ice the game, he did play well for the Giants on Sunday.
For the second straight game, Jennings was able to total at least 80 rushing yards, and he also scored one of the touchdowns for the Giants. After really struggling early on in the season, Jennings appears to be hitting his groove for the Giants.
Having a balanced attack on offense can make it more difficult for opposing defenses. In recent weeks, we have seen the Giants really make a commitment to running the football. Luckily, it has been pretty effective too with Jennings leading the way.
The emergence of the running game for the Giants should help give the offense the option to run some more play-action passes. With a talented quarterback in Eli Manning under center, a deadly play-action could help the Giants greatly down the stretch.
When you think about wide receivers on the Giants, the name Odell Beckham Jr. certainly comes to mind first. Beckham is one of the best wide receivers in the entire NFL and has set numerous records through his first three seasons in the league. Even though Beckham is great, the Giants knew they needed to add some help for him this offseason.
In the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Giants selected Sterling Shepard from Oklahoma. Shepard became a fan favorite in offseason workouts, and he looks like he belongs in the NFL. All of the attention that defenses give to Beckham have helped Shepard develop early on in his career.
So far this season, Shepard has totaled 44 receptions, 476 receiving yards, and five touchdown passes. The real impressive thing about Shepard has been his consistency. Against the Bears, Shepard was able to catch a touchdown pass for the third straight game, as it is no coincidence that he is playing well during this five-game winning streak.
Even though Shepard has only totaled one game of more than 100 receiving yards, he has been a valuable part of the Giants offense this season. As defenses continue to key on Beckham, Shepard is the main beneficiary.
One of the biggest signings of the offseason by the Giants was Olivier Vernon. After a few seasons of becoming a great pass-rusher with the Miami Dolphins, the Giants brought Vernon in to do the same for them. The Giants defense struggled a lot in 2015, and upgrading the defensive front was a priority of theirs this offseason.
Against the Bears, Vernon was a contributor to an impressive Giants pass-rush in the second half. After sacking Jay Cutler on Sunday, Vernon has now totaled a sack in three straight games for the Giants. After recording just one sack in the seven games, Vernon has been playing excellent the past three weeks.
In addition to creating pressure on the quarterback, Vernon also made a huge tackle for loss on Bears running back Jordan Howard. While getting to the quarterback is important, it is also key for a defensive end to stay in their gaps on running plays.
The Giants defense as a whole has been playing much better lately, and the great play from Vernon has contributed to that. If Vernon keeps it up, he will be earning every penny of the big contract that he signed in the offseason.
A budding star on the Giants is safety Landon Collins. In just his second season in the NFL, Collins is becoming one of the best safeties in the league. The past few weeks he has been getting recognition for his improved play in the secondary, and he just keeps making plays every week. In his rookie season, Collins totaled just one interception in 16 games. After an interception against the Bears on Sunday, Collins now have five interceptions on the season.
Collins developing into a playmaker in the secondary has greatly improved the Giants defense. We all know what the hard-hitting Collins can do in the box, but now he is forcing turnovers in the secondary.
In the past four games, Collins has totaled five interceptions with a touchdown, as he is quickly becoming one of the best safeties in the NFL. The Bears were without Alshon Jeffery in the game on Sunday due to his suspension, which really hurt the Bears’ chances in the game.
However, Cutler was driving the Bears down the field late in the fourth quarter, but Collins’ interception proved to be a game-winner for the Giants. The interception by Collins helped seal the deal for the Giants and helped them improve to 7-3.
One of the top performers for the Giants on Sunday was defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. In the win, Pierre-Paul led the Giants with 2.5 sacks in the game. Along with Olivier Vernon, Pierre-Paul created a lot of pressure on Jay Cutler in the second half.
Coming into Sunday, Pierre-Paul had totaled just 1.5 sacks this season, however, he was nearly able to double his season total after the Bears game. Giants fans know what Pierre-Paul is capable of on the field, and it was great to see him have his breakout game of the season.
Like Vernon, Pierre-Paul has the ability to get to the quarterback at any time. The past few weeks, we have begun to see what the two are capable of together, as they totaled 3.5 sacks against the Bears.
In addition to getting pressure on the quarterback, Pierre-Paul has done an excellent job knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage. These things sometimes go unnoticed during the game, but a batted ball is almost as valuable as a sack.
If Pierre-Paul keeps playing like he did on Sunday, the Giants defense will have to be feared by their opponents for the rest of the season.
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