EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 03: Osi Umenyiora #72 and Justin Tuck #91 of the New York Giants celebrates after a sack against the Chicago Bear at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
When they write the official history of the New York Giants, you can be sure that they won't spend too much space on what happened October 3rd, 2010.
It will be enough to say that the Giants got a win that they desperately needed before moving on to better days and nights in the team's history.
That's in the future, though. Here in the present we can spend a bit more time discussing one of the uglier nights of football that the world has ever seen.
The Giants were considerably less ugly than the Bears, but no one should mistake that for being a particularly positive assessment of their night's work. Almost all of the problems that plagued the team in the last two weeks were still in evidence and the special teams issues actually seem to be getting worse, but at the end of the day a win is a win and the Giants were on top 17-3.
For that they can thank a defense that recognized the Bears had an offensive line in name only and just kept attacking throughout the first half. The Giants set an NFL record with nine sacks, intercepted Jay Cutler once and forced him to fumble three times in a relentless attack that looked like something out of the archives. Cutler didn't return from halftime as a result of a concussion, a welcome relief to everyone who had tired of watching him hold the ball for eons in some bizarre attempt to create a state of zen nothingness in the middle of a football field.
It didn't work, but the Giants didn't do much with all the opportunities their defense handed over. They gained 76 yards on one drive that ended with a field goal and then managed to gain a total of 22 yards on 18 other plays in the first 30 minutes. Eli Manning turned the ball over once, punter Matt Dodge pulled a page from the Ace Ventura script to botch a hold and the team generally looked like things were going to be the same as they were the last two weeks.
Dodge also dropped the ball while attempting a punt, hit a line drive that he was lucky Devin Hester didn't take to the house and seemed to be moments away from a Richie Tenenbaum-style meltdown. If Tom Coughlin is sincere when he talks about accountability, it is difficult to imagine that Dodge will be on this team next week.
Things got a little better in the second half. The defense remained tough, although it is hard to know how much credit they deserve for that. Todd Collins, Cutler's backup, played like the 16-year professional last resort that he is
Eli Manning actually completed a couple of passes on an eight play, 90-yard drive in the third quarter for a touchdown and the Giants running game started finding some daylight. The game actually threatened to move into the watchable category for a half a second, but fumbles by Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw -- who allowed the Bears to catch him from behind on a long, would-be touchdown run -- made it clear that there would be no actual smiles tonight.
Grim nods and sighs of relief would have to suffice for a team that got the win, if not the performance, they needed. And, believe it or not, the Giants are tied for first place in an NFC East that is once again failing to live up to its reputation for being a tough conference. Sunday night was a baby step in the right direction. Another one next week and so on and so on will have the Giants in the thick of a fight for the playoffs.
After the last two weeks, that's more than enough to remember the night as a rousing success and leave the details to the dustbin of history.