CHICAGO -- For a while, the Giants were playing time machine football. The defense kept the Bears out of the end zone in the second half. Brandon Jacobs rumbled for two touchdowns and more than 100 rushing yards. And Eli Manning was driving the team toward victory in the closing minutes of the game.
But this is 2013, not 2007 or 2011 or any of the other seasons when things worked out well for the Giants. What looked like a vintage Manning moment in the making turned into an all-too- common sight this season: an interception, Manning's third of the game and 15th of the season.
This one came with less than two minutes remaining and the Giants 35 yards away from a potential game-winning touchdown. Instead of a comeback, they had to deal with a comedown and the hard-to-swallow reality of being winless in their first six games after a 27-21 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.
"We're all sick of it," Tom Coughlin said. "We're all sick of the losing."
It seemed as though that fever was about to break. Manning had the Giants aimed at the end zone when he threw a pass down the right seam for tight end Brandon Myers. The ball, high but catchable, went through the leaping Myers' hands straight into the arms of cornerback Tim Jennings at the 10 with 1:54 left. The Giants never got the ball back.
"The last drive would have been sensational to put the ball in the end zone," Coughlin said. "To lose the game under the circumstances we did with a nice drive going is very disappointing."
The last time the Giants opened a season with six straight losses was 1976, and that year they had three more in them before winning a game. They finished that campaign at 3-11.
"Right now we're heading in the wrong direction," defensive captain Antrel Rolle said before choking over the verbalization of the Giants' record. "We're 0-6 . . . We gotta fix it man, we gotta fix it. We're better than this. We know we're better than this."
The third interception doomed the comeback, but it was the second one that gave the Bears the margin of victory.
After the game's first possession ended with a pick by Zackary Bowman, the Giants managed to keep the Bears (4-2) out of the end zone from the 12. But Manning was picked off by Jennings on the next series, and that one was returned 48 yards for a touchdown. The pass was intended for Rueben Randle, who said he read the cornerback jumping the route and converted it into a go pattern. Manning threw it short. The Bears led 7-0.
Manning has 23 game-winning drives in the regular season, but he hasn't led one since last Oct. 28 in Dallas. That was the last time the Giants won a game on the road. They have lost their last eight away from MetLife.
The Giants' season is all but over, even with 10 to play. They are 21/2 games behind the NFC East-leading Cowboys and Eagles and have lost to both. "Everyone else is counting us out, and I don't blame them at this point," Rolle said. "Outside looking in, I'd probably count us out too."
But, Rolle added, the Giants cannot give up on themselves.
"While everyone else is counting us out, within this locker room and within this organization, we have to count ourselves in," he said. "Understand that there are still 10 games left to be played and we have to fight. We have to fight like hell all 10 games. Everything you got."
The Giants now have 11 days between games; they'll face the Vikings Oct. 21. But despite what is a virtual bye week, Coughlin said he likely will not make any changes to the staff. "What changes do you want me to make?" he asked. "I'll look at everything and evaluate everything."
The irony was that Thursday night's game may have been the Giants' best performance of the season.
They settled down defensively after allowing at least 30 points in each of the first five games. No NFL team has ever opened a season with six straight games giving up at least 30 points. They found a running game, albeit against a depleted Bears defensive front. And they were in the game until the end, playing competitively in all four quarters for the first time since the opener against the Cowboys.
That may be why this one seemed to be more devastating that the previous five. Although not everyone made that distinction.
After once barking the battle cry of "all in!" Rolle changed one word to describe the losses.
"All hurt," he said somberly. "All hurt."