The Giants were running on fumes and desperate to get to the finish line.
Nursing an eight-point lead inside three minutes to go and quarterback Daniel Jones forced back into action with an ankle injury after backup Tyrod Taylor took a hit to the head, a neutralized offense was forced to punt from their own 7-yard-line to give the Bears one more chance.
Enter the Scottish Hammer, as punter Jamie Gillan boomed a 59-yard punt all the way to the Bears’ 34-yard-line where Velus Jones muffed the catch before it was recovered by New York’s Gary Brightwell with two minutes remaining to run out the clock and deliver a Giants 20-12 victory.
The Giants are 3-1 — the quickest to three wins in a season since doing so in six games in 2016 — behind a staunch defense and ground game wearing throwback uniforms of the teams that won Super Bowls on such a philosophy.
Saquon Barkley posted 146 rushing yards on a career-high 31 carries, creating a lethal dual threat with Jones — who rushed for 68 yards and two scores — in the first half to put up a pair of first-half touchdowns to spark the victory.
And they discovered the formula quickly as the threat of Barkley and used it to neutralize the Chicago defense. New York rushed for 262 total yards compared to just 71 through the air.
After an 18-yard rush on the second play of their second drive of the day, the Giants relied on play-action calls to fine unparalleled offensive success in the first half this season.
Three plays after Barkley’s first big run of the day, Jones scrambled home from 21 yards out to give New York its first first-half touchdown of the season to go up 7-3.
The defense continued to bend but not break — allowing just a pair of field goals in three Bears drives that meandered inside the Giants’ 30-yard-line.
Up 7-6 with the Bears on New York’s 27, Chicago quarterback Justin Fields was strip-sacked by Azeez Ojulari, recovered by rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux with 9:38 to go in the second quarter. It was one of six Giants sacks on the afternoon as they held Fields to just 11 completions for 184 yards.
Seven plays later, which included a Barkley 29-yard run and a circus 3rd-&-9 conversion on a screen pass from the Bears 27 that saw him hit in the backfield before squirming out of it, reversing his field, and picking up the first down, Jones had his second rushing touchdown of the game when he rolled out off the play-action and coasted in from eight yards out to take a 14-6 lead with 5:17 remaining.
Richie James gifted Chicago three more points inside two minutes to go in the half when he fumbled a punt return to give the visitors possession on New York’s 35-yard-line.
The two teams traded field goals in the third quarter, but the largest concern came after Jones was sacked by Jaquan Brisker inside four minutes to go — forcing the Giants to conservatively call runs on 2nd-and-3rd-&-long scenarios for a field goal before the quarterback needed his foot and ankle taped up on the sidelines.
While he tried to run it off behind the bench, backup Tyrod Taylor came in — though he didn’t last long.
After throwing an interception to Eddie Jackson on his first drive, he was knocked out of the game on his second after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit while scrambling for a first down midway through the fourth quarter.
It forced Jones to come back in, although he was mostly used to relay plays in the huddle and stood out wide while Barkley took direct snaps.
The wildcat scheme did just enough to get the Giants into field goal range where Graham Gano made it an eight-point game with 5:31 to go in regulation.