Bears blast Giants 29-3 in Matt Nagy’s likely Soldier Field finale, but it means nothing

By default, somebody had to win this.

Someone had to be better out of the Bears and Giants, out of Andy Dalton and Mike Glennon, out of Matt Nagy and Joe Judge. So as the rest of the country was blissfully unaware that this matchup was even taking place, the Bears walloped the Giants 29-3 in a game that was thoroughly inconsequential.

It’s better to blow out the Giants than to get clobbered by them, especially with Glennon returning to Soldier Field for the first time, but the only congratulations to the Bears is for finding the rare opponent that’s actually worse than them. This was the fourth time they’d been favored all season.

There’s obligation to take this seriously. It wasn’t a glimpse of what could’ve been, nor did it portend anything to come. They beat the Giants. Everyone does.

There’s no need to indulge it as though it’s any kind of accomplishment.

They nearly matched their season high in points. But it wasn’t a case of finally capturing the magic that has eluded them for years. It was just that they played the Giants, a team that had given up 112 points over its previous four games.

Their defense opened with Trevis Gipson’s strip-sack on Glennon that led to a quick touchdown and followed with two interceptions, a safety and three more sacks — including another strip-sack by Gipson late in the third quarter. But it doesn’t mean the Bears have reversed their steady decline. It means they played a Giants team that has scored the second-fewest points in the NFL.

It’s not overly harsh to call this meaningless. It’s just a fact.

The Bears have had plenty of these empty victories under Nagy. Who could forget the glory of throttling the Texans and Jaguars late last season? Those are Nagy’s favorite teams. He went 3-11 against playoff teams over the 2019 and ’20 seasons and was 1-6 against teams that were in the playoff field entering Sunday.

The Bears were a juggernaut against the Giants, but only in the way that someone dreams they have superpowers. It all drifts away when the alarm goes off.

From the rosiest viewpoint, the Bears’ games have been little more than a formality since falling apart against the Ravens in Week 11. Many reasonable minds wrote them off well before that, but that was the point at which is no longer credible for anyone — even Nagy, the irrepressible optimist — to talk about playoffs.

The games became irrelevant not only for the team, but for Nagy. One of the reasons the report that he’d be fired after the Thanksgiving game gained so much traction was because everything about Nagy’s circumstances at the time made it sound plausible.

If the Bears wanted to jump-start anything, be it their season at large or fan enthusiasm, that would’ve been the time to do it. When it didn’t happen, the passion waned. The only thing worse for the Bears than an angry fan base is an apathetic one.

There haven’t been many “Fire Nagy” chants since then.

There have been a lot of empty seats, though, and the crowd Sunday was spotty. A generous estimate: Soldier Field was two-thirds full. When Nagy opted against going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line with about a minute until halftime, some halfhearted boos swirled briefly before dissipating in resignation.

There was a similarly tepid reaction shortly after that when Dalton underthrew a wide-open Darnell Mooney deep down the field.

It’s hard to get mad about something that really doesn’t matter.

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