After spending Monday morning re-watching the Bears' 19-14 win over the Giants Sunday at Soldier Field, here are three things I learned:
(1) Khalil Mack's biggest impact play was a momentum-swinging strip/sack in the third quarter that helped the Bears extend their lead to 19-7. But the All-Pro outside linebacker was a force as a pass rusher the entire second half.
Interestingly, the Giants single-blocked Mack most of the contest, primarily with left tackle Nate Solder. The only time they did what could be considered a double team in the first half was in the second quarter when tight end Kaden Smith shoved Mack with one arm while releasing off the line to run a pass route.
Mack didn't generate much pressure in the first half, but it wasn't because he was getting beaten by Solder. On virtually every pass play, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones dropped back three steps and got the ball out of his hands quickly. On some of those plays, Usain Bolt wouldn't have been able to get to Jones even if they had been the only two individuals on the field.
On his strip/sack, Mack used a speed move to burst around Solder and swat the ball away from the rookie quarterback. Nick Williams recovered at the Giants' 3, setting up Mitchell Trubisky's 2-yard touchdown run that put the Bears ahead by two scores.
"Every time we step on the field, we want to get a turnover," said outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. "Him making that play was big for us."
After the takeaway, the Giants double-teamed Mack on three of their next five pass plays. On all three occasions, he was first blocked by a tight end and then a lineman. It didn't stop him from getting to Jones, however.
On third-and-15 from the New York 45 early in the fourth quarter, Mack wrapped his arms around the quarterback, but the 6-5, 220-pounder escaped and completed an 11-yard pass to Smith. The Giants turned the ball over on downs on the next play.
Mack continued to generate pressure. The perennial Pro Bowler hit Jones as he tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate on fourth-and-18 that cut the deficit to 19-14 with 4:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. Mack then pressured Jones twice on the Giants' final drive, helping the Bears ice the win.
(2) Trubisky seemed to thrive once the Bears started to move him out of the pocket with designed rollouts in the second half.
On his first pass of the second half, Trubisky rolled to his right and completed a 23-yard pass to Allen Robinson II. The Bears quarterback was at his best on the second possession of the third quarter on four consecutive plays when he completed passes of 49 yards to Robinson, 22 and 13 yards to Anthony Miller and four yards to Jesper Horsted. The two completions to Miller came on designed rollouts, first to the left and then to the right.
Trubisky followed by rolling out to his left on third-and-goal from the 6, but he threw short of Robinson, who was well-covered in the end zone. Trubisky later picked up a key first down late in the third quarter when he rolled out and hit Ben Braunecker with a 4-yard pass on second-and-four from the Bears' 40.
"I think it's good," Trubisky said. "I'm comfortable throwing on the run. It helps that our o-line is moving the pocket, so it's not drop back all the time, and I think our receivers like it because they get a little more time to run their routes. It's a good way to mix it up, moving the pocket, take a little pressure off the o-line and create big plays."
Trubisky used his legs not only as a passer but a ballcarrier, scrambling for 12 yards on third-and-11 from the Bears' 4 and later scoring his first rushing touchdown of the season. Taking a shotgun snap, he cruised into the end zone on a 2-yard sweep to the right, giving the Bears a 19-7 lead with 5:19 left in the fourth quarter.
"I wanted that play called down there, especially when they were zoning us, showing us out down there, favorable run box," Trubisky said. "David [Montgomery] made a great block, o-line did a great job getting out and when you get down there, you've just got to finish strong. When your number is called, you've just got to do your job. Everyone else did theirs, so I felt like I needed to finish it off."
(3) Cordarrelle Patterson is a two-time All-Pro return specialist, but he showed that his skills on special teams aren't restricted to scoring touchdowns.
As a gunner on the punt coverage team, Patterson made three excellent plays against the Giants. His most impressive effort came late in the game when he tracked down a bouncing Pat O'Donnell punt and kept it out of the end zone with a headlong dive. The ball was inches from the goal line when Patterson batted it backwards.
"We work on that every day at practice," said Patterson, who ranks third in NFL history with seven career kickoff return touchdowns. "[O'Donnell] did a hell of a job, just kicking the ball the only way I could go get it. When I have an opportunity to go get it, I just want to go get it."
Earlier in the contest, Patterson made a touchdown-saving tackle on Jabrill Peppers' 40-yard punt return and caught an O'Donnell punt at the Giants' 3-yard line.
"I just like to go out and help my team win any way I can," Patterson said. "Whenever my number's called, I just try to go out there and make a play."
See the best photos–as selected by Bears photographers–from Sunday's Week 12 win over the New York Giants at Soldier Field.