The Giants received a pep talk from former team souls Michael Strahan and Jessie Armstead before the team unveiled its Ring of Honor Sunday night at halftime.
The chats, no more than 10 minutes each, were just what the Giants needed. Though the offense sputtered most of the evening, the defense came out with what Justin Tuck called "that steely-eyed focus" and beat the Bears 17-3 to pull even with Washington and Philadelphia for the NFC East lead.
Here's some of the good and bad, and there was plenty of each despite Tom Coughlin exclaiming it as an "outstanding win."
Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora: Couldn't get enough of these two last night. Tuck lined up everywhere across the line and came up with three sacks. Umenyiora, supposedly struggling with knee swelling all week, was turned loose by Perry Fewell and came up with three other sacks, one on which he slapped the ball out of Cutler's hands for a fumble.
Overall Defense: Playing without Mathias Kiwanuka and Keith Bulluck, the Giants consistently changed up fronts and looks in the secondary. Fewell sent in blitzers all over, including a linebacker blitz on which Michael Boley came in unchecked for the knockout blow on Collins. Jonathan Goff looked good in the middle and applied pressure. All told, the Bears had just six first downs in the game, didn't convert a third down situation, and at one point had eight out of nine drives end either on downs or via turnover.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Yeah, he fumbled what should have been a game-clinching touchdown. But he also scored one, carrying two Bears into the end zone, and rushed 23 times for 129 yards for the Giants' first 100-yard rushing effort of the season.
Hakeem Nicks: He had nine catches for 110 yards. And though he didn't score a touchdown, he had a key 21-yard catch that got the Giants out of a third-and-17 on their third-quarter touchdown drive.
Matt Dodge: Seems he does something negative every game. In the first half alone, he fumbled a punt and then kicked it once he was beyond the line of scrimmage for a penalty with a clear field ahead of him. Run with it, and he has a first down. Later that half, he duffed a kick to Devin Hester, allowing him to start the Bears at their 35 instead of deep in their end. Have to wonder how long Coughlin's patience will hold out on this kid.
Turnovers: Couldn't ask for more in the first half, but the Giants didn't convert. Terrell Thomas intercepts at the Chicago 28, but Lawrence Tynes sent a field goal wide left. Osi Umenyiora strip-sacked Cutler at the Chicago 29, but the Giants had a procedure all on third down to take them out of field goal range. They wound up punting, and the score remained 3-0 Giants.
Eli Manning: Hard to fault him for the offense's inability to finish turnover-created drives in the first half, but somebody's got to take the fall. He was 18-for-30 for 195 yards with no touchdowns, and was victimized by a strip-sack.
Brandon Jacobs: He scored a touchdown at the end, but when the score was still close at 10-0, his fumble set up the Bears for their only field goal. He finished with six carries for 62 yards, most of that coming on the final drive. Still too much dancing around instead of plowing straight ahead, but at least he exhibited his old power on his 2-yard touchdown run.