Giants fear Saquon Barkley tore ACL in crushing loss to Bears
CHICAGO — New year, new coach, same poor start (and fewer answers available) for the Giants.
A spirited comeback by the undermanned Giants ended like this: One play from the 10-yard line with four seconds remaining. Daniel Jones’ throw sailed incomplete and the penalty flag flew for offensive pass interference against Golden Tate, sending the Giants back to the locker room with heads hung low.
Saquon Barkley’s serious right knee injury — which the team fears to be a torn ACL and is scheduled for an MRI Monday — and the game-ending toe injury to Sterling Shepard cast the uncertain dark clouds over a 17-13 loss to the Bears.
The Giants are 0-2 for the seventh time in eight years under four different head coaches — and the schedule for the next three weeks offers no breathers.
The Giants trailed 17-0 at halftime but rallied behind a defense that made four straight stops.
When a fourth-and-2 was converted by the Bears when an offensive lineman caught a deflected pass, it didn’t provide a predictable soul-crushing letdown. The Giants regrouped and forced a 50-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide and put the ball back in Jones’ hands just before the two-minute warning, with 60 yards to drive.
He went 50.
Jones committed two turnovers — including another of the strip-sack fumbles that plagued his rookie season — and the offense didn’t run a play in the red zone in the first half. A defensive pass interference penalty negated a fourth-quarter Bears interception returned for a touchdown.
The Bears’ two touchdowns were similar in that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky danced around the pocket with no pressure, as coordinator Patrick Graham brought a three-man rush on third-and-7 and again on third-and-8.
On the first one, David Montgomery leaked out of the backfield and caught a check-down pass, slashing his way to a 28-yard score. Nate Ebner, who is a safety by trade but on the team for his special teams prowess, took a poor angle in pursuit and left the middle of the field open for Montgomery.
Anthony Miller boxed out and out-jumped Corey Ballentine in one-on-one coverage for a 15-yard score. The Bears converted nine of their first 11 third downs but went scoreless in the second half.
The Giants were down 10-0 when the second quarter began and bad became worse when Barkley fought through a tackle and went to the ground grabbing his right knee before unstrapping his helmet and rolling around in pain. He was helped to the sideline by coach Joe Judge and a trainer without putting any weight on his leg.
Barkley buried his head in his hands on the bench, couldn’t stand on his own when he tried and was carted back to the locker room for X-rays. As a trainer held Barkley’s right knee, the star running back slammed down his fist in frustration. He is scheduled to undergo further evaluation Monday.
On the second-to-last play of the half, Shepard came up hobbled and missed most of the second half. And, to think, the day began with optimism because Shepard, Barkley, Tate, Darius Slayton and Evan Engram all were available for the first time in 18 games as teammates.
The defense — namely cornerback James Bradberry — fueled the unlikely rally. Bradberry tipped a pass that led to Julian Love’s interception and wrestled another pass away from Allen Robinson for his own interception. The two Trubisky turnovers led to two field goals, the second of which made it 17-13 with 7:43 remaining.
Barkley’s replacement, Dion Lewis, keyed an 11-yard, 95-yard touchdown drive, gaining a first down on a third-and-3 pass flipped to him by Jones as he hit the ground. He finished the drive with a 1-yard down run between the tackles on fourth down.
Lewis also played a big role as the Giants completed two fourth downs to get into scoring position before time ran out.
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