Bears 28, Giants 21
The Chicago Bears stole the New York Giants' early-season formula for success -- again and again and . . .
The Bears forced five turnovers, including three consecutive plays in a 20-point explosion late in the first half, in beating the Giants, 28-21, on Sunday.
"We made plays when we really needed to," said defensive end Alex Brown, who had four of the Bears' seven sacks. "They scored two quick touchdowns, but we knew we had to stay in our gap and play ball. They couldn't drive the ball on us. We got a sack, we got a turnover and things kind of rolled from there."
Rookie Craig Krenzel threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to ignite the rally and Anthony Thomas scored on runs of four and 41 yards as Chicago (3-5) won its second straight game and handed the Giants (5-3) their second straight embarrassing home loss.
"They played the kind of game we have been playing, let the other guy lose the game," Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said.
What made the defeat more frustrating was NFC East leader Philadelphia (7-1) lost earlier in the day. The Giants also have to worry about a pectoral injury to all-pro defensive end Michael Strahan, who left in the third quarter.
New York, which came into the game with an NFC-best plus-12 takeaway differential, self-destructed after taking an early 14-0 lead on touchdown runs of one and three yards by Tiki Barber.
Another 13-yard touchdown run by Barber seemed to give New York a 21-0 lead later in the quarter, but the play was called back by a holding penalty against Amani Toomer.
Three plays later, Chicago cornerback Jerry Azumah sacked Kurt Warner and forced a fumble that Nathan Vasher recovered. The Giants' offense ground to a halt after that.
"I don't really know what sparked us," said Azumah, who also had an interception. "They scored two quick touchdowns on us and we basically said 'Enough!' "
New York, which also had 14 penalties for 109 yards, didn't get on the board again until Warner (18 of 36 for 195 yards) threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey with 1 minute 56 seconds to play.
The Giants got a final chance when Jack Brewer recovered the onside kick at their 40. However, Warner was sacked two more times, and the Bears ran out the clock.
"It's extremely frustrating," Giants center Wayne Lucier said. "We were rolling pretty good and we let some of their pressure get to us. It was pressure every play. You turn the ball over like that, you're not going to win. It was a nightmare."
The Giants allowed the Bears to score 20 points in the final 5:13 of the opening half. The last 17 points came after New York turned over the ball on three straight plays -- a fumble by Ike Hilliard and two interceptions.
With a first and 20 at the Chicago 37, Krenzel (8 of 21 for 144 yards and no interceptions) needed only two plays to get Chicago on the board. He hit David Terrell for 28 yards and then found Bernard Berrian for a 35-yard score down the right sideline.
After safety Mike Green forced and recovered a fumble by Hilliard at the Giants 29, the Bears needed only two plays and two penalties to tie the game. Thomas walked into the end zone on a four-yard sweep with 2:35 left in the half.
The Giants had a chance to take the lead early in the third quarter when linebacker Nick Greisen recovered a lateral at the Chicago 18. However, Brown sacked Warner and forced a fumble on second down and Ian Scott caught the ball in midair for the turnover.
Thomas's long touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Krenzel's two-point run gave the Bears a 28-14 lead.