He showed he has one very valuable quality. He's resilient.
At least that was the conclusion Bears coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo came away with after Grossman tossed three touchdown passes in a 38-20 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night. Grossman and return specialist Devin Hester, who tied the NFL record with a 108-yard touchdown return of a missed field goal, combined to rally the Bears (8-1) from a 10-point first-half deficit.
While Hester's play was one for the history books, Grossman's performance may have a more enduring effect on Chicago's title chances.
"Rex didn't start out well, but good quarterbacks find a way," Smith said.
"That's what I was just talking to Lovie about," Angelo said. "You want to see him get going after a tough start. See that he can get himself out of a hole."
Grossman did just that after throwing an ugly first-quarter interception, one of two turnovers by the Bears that contributed to a 13-3 deficit and had the sellout crowd at Giants Stadium rocking. At the same time, Bears fans were reeling from the belief that Grossman might not be as good as he looked in the first five games of the season.
Rather, Grossman looked the part of the guy who had a combined 10 turnovers in two of the previous three games. Those two bad outings were an improbable win over Arizona in which Grossman had six turnovers and last week's loss against Miami in which he had four.
Against New York, Grossman looked distracted and disturbed, holding the ball too long.
"I said all week that we had to do some things to get Rex going in the right direction early in the game, and that didn't happen," Chicago offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "In fact, it was just about as opposite as you could be from that … It was a rough start, but I've always said that I'm never worried about Rex's confidence. No matter what happens, he's going to hang in there."
After completing only seven of his first 17 passes, Grossman got going on his final two passes of the first half. He threw a pretty 22-yard crossing route to Muhsin Muhammad and followed that with a 29-yard pump-and-go for a touchdown to Mark Bradley.
"Those are the throws that he likes to make, so we're going to lean on that in those situations," Turner said.
"That got our whole offense into a nice rhythm," Grossman said.
Suddenly, like a great jump shooter in basketball, Grossman was hot and continued that into the second half as he hit one deep crossing route after another.
Hester helped put the game away with his fourth-quarter return, which tied the record set only last year by teammate Nathan Vasher, when Giants kicker Jay Feely came up way short on a 52-yard field goal. Hester got the chance to match Vasher's feat due to one of many questionable decisions by New York coach Tom Coughlin, who attempted the long field goal into a strong wind on a cold night with the Giants trailing by four points at the time.
Then again, the daunting question for Coughlin and New York is when will quarterback Eli Manning get to the point where he's taking full advantage of his extensive talent?
Coughlin put this game on Manning's shoulders, and the former No. 1 overall pick continued to show that he can be downright infuriating. He has moments of teasing brilliance interspersed among moments of indifferent inconsistency.
Of course, some of the blame falls on Coughlin, who has a tendency to be pass-happy in big games (remember Jacksonville in the 1999 AFC championship game against Tennessee?).
With six starters sidelined because of injury, including both defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, the logical game plan against the Bears would be to run. Further proof of said philosophy is that the Giants had 41 yards and one touchdown on their first four rushing attempts.
Yet despite that evidence, Coughlin put the game on Manning's arm. After going up 7-0 on the strength of the aforementioned turnovers and running game, eight of Coughlin's next 10 play calls were passes. And Manning was simply awful, completing four of eight for 20 yards and one interception. What could have been a more lopsided game for the Giants instead was a battle. That allowed Grossman to work through his problems without the pressure of a big deficit.
In the meantime, the situation went from bad to worse for Manning. Giants left tackle Luke Petitgout broke his left leg and was replaced by the ancient Bob Whitfield, who a year ago at this time was retired and running a music studio in Atlanta.
And Whitfield played like a man who was way off key. He was beaten by Chicago defensive end Alex Brown for two quick sacks, including one in the third quarter on which Whitfield even held Brown. Brown forced a fumble on the play, which was recovered by fellow end Adewale Ogunleye, and the Bears quickly converted it into a score by Grossman for a 24-13 lead.
By that time Grossman was hot, and miscues on his part were a thing of the past.