NFL Wire News

Saints 31, Bears 15

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CHICAGO — Drew Brees threw three short touchdown passes, and the New Orleans Saints took over first place in the NFC South by crushing the Chicago Bears 31-15 Monday night.

Although the Saints have a 6-8 record, they would clinch the division title and earn a home playoff game if they win their two remaining games, at home against the Atlanta Falcons, then at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bears (5-9) have allowed the most points in the NFL. They were eliminated from playoff contention more than a week ago, and they looked like a team that had nothing to play for, showing almost no life against the NFL’s 31st-ranked defensive team.

In the first three quarters, Chicago got across midfield for only two offensive plays on nine possessions, penetrating no deeper than the Saints’ 46-yard line while being outgained 381 yards to 119.

The Bears finally managed a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard pass from quarterback Jay Cutler to wide receiver Marquess Wilson, but it came after Cutler, who leads the NFL in turnovers, threw three interceptions. He has thrown 18 interceptions and lost six fumbles this season.

Wilson’s score was Chicago’s only flicker of life until near the very end; wide receiver Alshon Jeffery caught a 7-yard TD pass from Cutler with 30 seconds remaining.

New Orleans squandered three good scoring opportunities in the first half, which is why the Saints led only 14-0 at halftime, but they put the game away in the third quarter.

The Saints drove 80 yards from the second-half kickoff with Brees completing two third-down passes before tight end Josh Hill scored his second touchdown of the game on a 7-yard pass.

Later in the quarter, the Saints drove to a first down at the Bears 4-yard line but settled for a 25-yard field goal by Shayne Graham and a 24-0 lead.

Running back Mark Ingram scored the Saints’ final touchdown on a 15-yard run with 1:47 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Brees completed 29 of 36 passes for 375 yards. Cutler, who was sacked seven times, completed 17 of 31 passes for 194 yards, all but 87 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter. The Saints had made only eight interceptions in their previous 13 games.

Both first-half touchdowns came on Brees passes, an 8-yarder to Hill and a 9-yarder to wide receiver Marques Colston to cap a 95-yard drive just before halftime.

However, the Saints also lost a fumble at the Chicago 3-yard line when wide receiver Nick Toon coughed up the ball after a completion. On another possession, New Orleans got to the Chicago 29, but a fumbled snap forced a 51-yard field-goal attempt that Graham missed. The Saints also reached the Chicago 26 on a different drive but were set back by a sack.

In the first half, the Bears had more penalties accepted against them (six) than first downs made (five). The Saints led 16-5 in first downs and outgained the Bears 245-92 in the first half. Even those figures did not reflect the one-sidedness of the game because Chicago gained 32 yards on two meaningless plays in its own territory in the final minute prior to halftime.

NOTES: Chicago tried a fake punt in the second quarter and came up a yard short, but the gambit would not have stood even if it worked because the Bears had only six players on the line of scrimmage. They only had 10 on the field. … The Bears were without their regular kicker, Robbie Gould, for the second game in a row because of a quadriceps injury. … Chicago LB D.J. Williams, who was replacing injured Lance Briggs, also missed the game due to injury. Christian Jones filled in. … Bears S Chris Conte was out due to a back injury. He was replaced by Brock Vereen. … The Saints benched starting CB Corey White and replaced him with Terrence Frederick, who made his first NFL start … With undrafted rookie Ryan Groy replacing injured Michael Ola at left guard, the Bears started their eighth combination on the offensive line.


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