CHICAGO -- Tim Jennings admittedly was beaten, but he still wound up with the ball in his hands to secure a win that helped the Chicago Bears snap a two-game losing streak.
After nearly blowing a 13-point lead in the second half, the Bears hung on to beat the winless New York Giants 27-21 on Thursday night at Soldier Field, riding out a nail-biting final New York drive thanks to the second of Jennings' two interceptions.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," said Jennings, who returned his first interception of the night for a touchdown in the first quarter. "Those guys gave us everything they had and they played great. We just made a few plays at the end, but we left so many plays out there that we've got to correct. But it feels good to get the win and we needed that one."
The Bears (4-2) took sole possession of first place in the NFC North for at least two more days, while the Giants absorbed another gut-wrenching loss. New York fell to 0-6 amid a frustrating start to the season marred by costly injuries and head-scratching mistakes -- including three interceptions thrown by quarterback Eli Manning.
Along with his touchdown return off a pickoff, Jennings hauled in the second one at the Bears 10-yard line with 1:54 left to play and Chicago clinging to six-point lead. He snagged the ball after it went through tight end Brandon Myers' hands in yet another vexing display of futility by the Giants.
"They went back to a play that they ran a couple plays earlier," Jennings said. "I guess they saw something. The ball was overthrown and I was there to make a tackle. I saw the ball was tipped and I was able to get my hands on it."
It was the 15th interception on just six touchdowns for Manning this season.
"I obviously threw the ball a little too high," Manning said of the game-clinching pickoff. "I had a guy open and felt that the ball came out how I wanted it to. I just obviously threw it a little too high. It's unfortunate. I thought we were going to make a drive and win the game, and you know, I made a mistake."
Despite his struggles, Manning's teammates are still firmly supporting him -- including veteran defensive end Justin Tuck, who's seen much better days for the Giants' to offensive threat.
"We've been together a long time and I've seen him do some remarkable things on the football field when all odds have been against him," Tuck said. "I know he's frustrated. He wants to come out here and be the Eli of old and lead us to victory. All we can do as his teammates is continue to support him and encourage him. I still truly believe that he's going to get out of this rut and start leading us to some wins."
The teams combined for 727 yards of total offense (372 for Chicago and 355 for New York), with both quarterbacks leading the way. Jay Cutler completed 24 of 36 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns for the Bears, who also got a big game out of top receiver Brandon Marshall (nine catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns).
What the Giants said
"We're all sick of it. We're all sick of losing, but we put ourselves in this position and there's only one way to get out of it. No one is going to hand you anything." -- Coach Tom Coughlin.
"I've never been 0-6 on any level in my life, but you know, tough times don't last. Tough people do. Let's see what we've got." -- Safety Antrel Rolle.
What the Bears said
"We still left a lot out there. We still can get better. From my standpoint, I was in the slot. They got their hands on me way too much. Even outside, I've got to work on my releases." -- Receiver Brandon Marshall, who caught nine passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
"The bottom line is our defense was able to get the ball turned over to us three times and offensively we played a very clean game. Our guys took care of the football. It wasn't all pretty, and we know that. That's exciting from our standpoint because we know we have a chance to get better." -- Coach Marc Trestman
What we learned about the Giants
1. New York can run the ball effectively, albeit the Giants did so Thursday against a banged-up defensive front seven. Veteran running back Brandon Jacobs started in place of injured starter David Wilson and totaled 106 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. "I just did what was asked of me to do," Jacobs said. "I did what they brought me here to do, go out and play running back for the New York Giants. I felt good out there. Still, without a win, it doesn't mean anything."
2. The Giants are not going to just scrap the passing game simply because Eli Manning is off to a terrible start, throwing 15 interceptions and just nine touchdowns in the first six games. Manning is still the key to New York's offense, and coach Tom Coughling isn't about to disarm him because of his current struggles. "You coach him just like you coach anybody who's had some issues," Coughlin said. "He's trying as hard as he can to stay away from interceptions as well, but you're not going to go back to not throwing the football. That's not something that's going to happen. He's been too successful for so many years throwing the ball."
What we learned about the Bears
1. Brandon Marshall is still a lethal offensive weapon when he's not double- or triple-covered. Marshall caught nine passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns, upping his team-high receptions total to 40 and his team-high yardage total to 465 with five TDs. Since he joined the Bears last year, Marshall has 158 catches for 1,973 yards and 16 touchdowns to assert himself as the clear-cut No. 1 receiving option -- even after complaining about a lack of being targeted in a Week 5 loss to the New Orleans Saints. "I have worked with the guy for a long time," quarterback Jay Cutler said, referring to their days together as Denver Broncos. "We kind of read each other, not a lot of talking out there, so I know where he is going to go and he knows where I want him to go. So, it works for us."
2. The Bears still depend heavily on scoring off turnovers they create. Cornerback Tim Jennings returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, giving the Bears 38 defensive TDs in the past decade. Chicago is 27-5 in those 32 games and 24-2 with 10 straight wins since 2005. The Bears also have 12 interception-return touchdowns going back to last season, including three this season, two by Jennings. "We've got to take the ball away, but once we get the ball in our hands, we've got to score," Jennings said. "That just gives us a better chance to win football games."