CHICAGO — The Giants should ask the NFL to start next season with a double-bye just to survive into Week 3.
For the fourth straight season and the seventh time in eight years under four different head coaches, the Giants opened the season with back-to-back defeats, following a loss to the Steelers with a 17-13 loss Sunday to the Bears.
The Giants won a Super Bowl after an 0-2 start in 2007, but haven’t reached the playoffs after any of their past six 0-2 starts. Their playoff berth in 2016 came after a 2-0 start.
Since 1993, about 88 percent of teams that start 0-2 miss the playoffs, though there is an extra postseason berth in each conference this season to extend hope.
“I try to create my own history,” cornerback James Bradberry said when asked about those numbers. “We still have 14 games left. We’re just going to try to win the first one.”
Realistic expectations for the Giants in coach Joe Judge’s first season don’t include a playoff appearance. But even moderate improvement seems like a long shot given the likely possibility of playing the rest of the season without Saquon Barkley.
“As a team,” coach Joe Judge said, “we have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Want an encouraging sign for the defense?
Trailing 17-13 and in need of a stop late in the fourth quarter, Blake Martinez broke up a fourth-and-2 pass, but the ball was deflected into the hands of offensive lineman Bobby Massie for a first-down catch. It could’ve sucked the air out of the defense, and it meant the Bears needed just one more first down to run down the clock.
But the Giants showed mental toughness and held the Bears to a 50-yard field-goal attempt that sailed wide.
“I’m not going to lie to you: It was a tough situation,” Martinez said. “I knew there was going to be a late leap by the tight ends. I was expecting it and to break it up and it goes straight to an offensive lineman, it’s something you don’t expect. At that point, you have to be professional and get ready for the next set of downs.”
The always-prepared Judge even had a strategy for helping carry off Barkley after his knee injury. Barkley went to the sideline with one arm around his coach and one around a trainer.
“That was just simply he’s a big dude and I wanted to make sure we get him over there with the least amount of stress on his leg as possible,” Judge said, “and tried to just take the weight off.”
The last time the Giants lost despite pitching a second-half shutout was Nov. 21, 2004 against the Falcons.
That game is best remembered as Eli Manning’s first career start, when a 14-0 halftime deficit became a 14-10 loss.