The New York Giants fell to the Chicago Bears in a hard-fought game Sunday. That wasn’t nearly their biggest loss of the day. On the first play of the second quarter, New York’s star running back Saquon Barkley got tackled by safety Eddie Jackson after a five-yard gain. Instead of returning to the huddle, Barkley writhed on the turf holding his knee and pounding his fist in frustration. Ian Rapoport reported after the game that Barkley tore his ACL based on initial tests, which would prematurely end his 2020 season.
The news is devastating to Barkley personally. It’s also a crushing blow for the Giants, who were counting on a dominant season from their 2018 second-overall pick. Fans were looking forward to seeing him fully healthy this year. Barkley was hampered by a high-ankle sprain for much of 2019. At this point, we can only hope he recovers well enough to return in 2021 as the same explosive, dynamic player.
The game itself couldn’t have started much worse for Big Blue. They let up a touchdown on Chicago’s opening possession, capped by a 28-yard catch and run from Mitch Trubisky to David Montgomery. On the Giants’ first possession, Robert Quinn strip-sacked Daniel Jones and Khalil Mack recovered the ball, leading to a Chicago field goal. The Giants’ remaining four first-half possessions resulted in two punts, a Jones’ interception, and a missed field goal. The Bears strung together an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on their final possession of the half. Darnell Mooney caught a 15-yard touchdown on a play Trubisky extended with his legs.
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The Giants’ made a valiant effort to come back in the second half without Barkley and receiver Sterling Shepard, who left the game in the third quarter with a toe injury. Thanks to two interceptions of Trubisky, two field goals, and a 95-yard touchdown drive, New York found themselves with the ball on their own 40-yard line just prior to the two-minute warning, down only 17-13.
Without the use of timeouts (coach Joe Judge had already used them to preserve clock), Jones led the offense to Chicago’s 10-yard line with 4 seconds left. On the final play of the game, Jones threw it incomplete to Golden Tate. Tate was called for offensive pass interference, but an obvious defensive pass interference by Jackson was missed. The penalties should have offset, repeating the down and allowing the Giants one more shot at the endzone. As it was, though, New York came up just short.
To properly gauge the Giants’ performances, here are your Week 2 “Podium/Sodium Players”, i.e., three players that earned praise, and three that earned jeers from Sunday afternoon.
Gold Medal: CB James Bradberry
If you’re looking for positives from the Giants’ day, you’d better start with the defense. Outside of their lone touchdown, New York’s best plays were the two times they picked off Trubisky. Both were caused by tremendous plays by Bradberry. The first was when he closed on a pass intended for Allen Robinson, popping it up for Julian Love to catch. The second was one of the best interceptions you’ll ever see. On a deep shot down the right sideline, Bradberry wrestled the ball away from Robinson as it came in over his shoulder.
James Bradberry INTERCEPTION!!!! pic.twitter.com/3myralxZef
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) September 20, 2020
Bradberry also provided blanket coverage on Robinson by holding him to just 33 yards on the day.
Silver Medal: ILB Blake Martinez
The other Giants’ big free-agent acquisition also impressed Sunday. Martinez once again led the team in tackles with eight, including six solo and one for a loss. He even got his first sack of the season. Martinez had proven to be a major improvement over what New York has had at off-ball linebacker the last few years. He’s always around the ball and rarely gets caught out of position.
Bronze Medal: S/CB Logan Ryan
After a quiet Giants debut in Week 1, Ryan took on a much more prominent role in Chicago. The recently signed defensive back played 54 snaps Sunday, per Jordan Raanan. Ryan rewarded Big Blue for the increased playing time with a productive day. He finished second on the team with seven tackles, including six solo, and played well in coverage.
Salty: QB Daniel Jones
Jones played much better in the second half, and deserves some credit for getting the Giants in position to possibly win the game. But as is too often the case with Jones, the good came with hearty helping of bad. Jones’ first half was terrible, as he committed two more turnovers (a fumble and an interception) and put zero points on the board. As Jones progresses in his second season, the encouraging flashes we saw from his rookie year must become the norm, and the ugly parts of his game must be cut out entirely. He may still get to that point, but his performance Sunday wasn’t a step in the right direction.
Saltier: CB Corey Ballentine
It’s almost unfair to put much blame on Ballentine, as circumstances in the offseason forced him into a starting role for which he wasn’t ready. But as it stands he’s a player New York is relying on, and he continues to get burned. On Chicago’s second touchdown, Ballentine was outlept by Mooney in the endzone for the score. Through two games this season it’s clear he struggles at the catch-point and opponents are looking to go after him.
Saltiest: WR Darius Slayton
Slayton had a strong outing in Week 1 against Pittsburgh. He couldn’t make his mark in this game at all. Slayton managed only 33 yards on 3 catches, and had a critical third-down drop in the redzone when the Giants were trying to capitalize on Love’s interception. Now without Barkley, and maybe Shepard, someone else on the Giants’ offense has to become a consistent threat. When New York needed Slayton most Sunday, he came up small.