The two-minute warning in the fourth quarter Sunday really was a warning for the Giants.
They were leading the Bears by six points and had just allowed two pass plays totaling 58 yards. Chicago had the ball first-and-10 at the Giants’ 30.
That’s when Jason Pierre-Paul stepped up. He strip-sacked Jay Cutler, and, even though the Bears recovered, the 14-yard loss set the tone.
Chicago’s late rally ended two plays later when Cutler was intercepted by Landon Collins at the 21 to seal the Giants’ 22-16 victory at MetLife Stadium.
Pierre-Paul had 2 1⁄2 of the Giants’ four sacks, all of which came in the fourth quarter. None was as important as the final one.
“Just making a play,” Pierre-Paul said. “It wasn’t anything special. I just beat him. I rushed the edge and that was basically it. It wasn’t anything special.”
Pierre-Paul’s teammates would beg to differ.
“Yeah, JPP is JPP, man,” defensive end Olivier Vernon said. “Ain’t nothing changed about him. He is still a beast out there . . . He’s a monster.”
Chicago’s final drive began at the Bears’ 22 with exactly three minutes left. The Bears hadn’t scored a point since the 8:35 mark of the second quarter, and the Giants wanted to keep it that way.
“Don’t let them score. Don’t let them score,” Vernon said the mindset was. “Hold it down and everything will take care of itself.”
Some flies in the ointment: Cutler’s 35-yard pass to Marquess Wilson on first down immediately put the Bears in Giants territory. And a few snaps later, Cutler’s 23-yard connection with Joshua Bellamy led into the two-minute timeout.
“We never panicked at all,” Pierre-Paul said. “We knew what we had to get done and all week, all the coaches really preached it. As a unit, we have a couple things to clean up and we are going to take care of those things.”
So what was the mindset with two minutes to go?
“They can’t score,” Pierre-Paul said. “Buckle down. I even told some guys that it is time to blow up, it is on us, and guys responded. I responded myself. I can’t just do the talking, I have to show up, and we came out with a win.”
The Giants went into halftime trailing 16-9 against a team that came in 2-7. Chicago went out 2-8 because the Giants scored 13 points in the third quarter and the defense pitched a second-half shutout.
“Nobody wants to start slow,” said Vernon, who sacked Cutler for an 8-yard loss with 12:49 left. “Our coaches made some good halftime adjustments and that was it. All we had to do was stick to our game plan. They weren’t doing anything different that we had never seen on film. That was just on us, and we have to start faster.”
Of Vernon, Pierre-Paul said: “He is a good teammate, a good player, a humble guy. He doesn’t do a ton of talking. Me and him together is a dominating duo.”