NFL Wire News

Saints-Bears: What we learned

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CHICAGO — Although both teams came into Monday night’s game with 5-8 records, the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears clearly are going in opposite directions.

By winning 31-15 in a game they dominated by a wide margin, the Saints moved into first place in the woebegone NFC South. New Orleans can clinch the division title and earn a home playoff game by winning its two remaining games, at home against the Atlanta Falcons, then at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bears, meanwhile, remained in last place in the NFC North and are closing in on a top-10 choice when the 2015 draft is held next spring, coincidentally, in Chicago.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes while completing 29 of 36 attempts for 375 yards, a nice turnaround from the his performance last week in a 41-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

“We responded well as a team,” Brees said. “We were embarrassed by last week. We’re better than that.”

Chicago should be embarrassed, too.

The 16-point margin really understated the difference in the two teams. The Bears were outgained 381 yards to 119 in the first three quarters and showed almost no life against the NFL’s 31st-ranked defensive team.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who leads the NFL in lost turnovers, threw three interceptions and was sacked seven times. Cutler, who has thrown 18 interceptions and lost six fumbles this season, produced more than half of his passing yardage — 107 of 194 — in the fourth quarter.

“Offensively, we didn’t play well,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We were very inconsistent. We had no passing game. We had seven sacks. Certainly not even close to being an offense that could compete through four quarters, although we finished the game.”

New Orleans squandered three good scoring opportunities inside the Chicago 30-yard line in the first half but still led 24-0 before the Bears came somewhat to life in the final quarter.

Brees threw touchdown passes of 8 and 7 yards to reserve tight end Josh Hill and a 9-yarder to wideout Marques Colston. Running back Mark Ingram ran 15 yards for the other New Orleans touchdown.

However, one Saints drive ended on a fumble by wide receiver Nick Toon inside the Bears’ 5-yard line, another was stymied by a fumbled snap and a third by a third-down sack.

“We really had some good field position early in the game and didn’t get the points we should have had to show for it,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.

The Bears ran just two plays across the 50-yard line and none beyond the Saints 46 until the fourth quarter, when Cutler threw touchdown passes to wide receiver Marquess Wilson and, in the final 30 seconds, to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

“We were not in unison tonight collectively on the offensive side of the ball, and that starts with me,” Trestman said.

Actually, the Bears have problems on both sides of the ball. They are assured of their first losing season since 2009, and they have permitted the most points in the NFL.

Despite their losing record, the Saints are in prime position to wrap up a playoff berth. The oddity for New Orleans is that it lost its past four games in the Superdome, the site of Sunday’s matchup with the Falcons.

“When you’re not playing well, it doesn’t matter where you play,” Payton said.

A sentiment, no doubt, with which the Bears would agree.

What the Saints said:

“There’s a sense of urgency we need to create. It’s something we focused on and made a point of emphasis.” — Coach Sean Payton.

“We were really balanced. It felt like we were efficient.” — Quarterback Drew Brees.

What the Bears said:

“We had no passing game. We had seven sacks. Certainly, not even close to being an offense that could compete through four quarters.” — Coach Marc Trestman.

“It’s frustrating. We’re trying to say the same thing different ways after games. You get to a point where you don’t have the answer. I think that’s where we’re at.” — Quarterback Jay Cutler.

What we learned about the Saints:

1. On a good night, New Orleans’ defense can dominate a game. The Saints looked sharp on that side of the ball Monday, but some of that was due to the Bears’ makeshift offensive line, which, because of injuries, included two rookies at guard.

2. Quarterback Drew Brees endured some inconsistent games this season, but he still is capable of escaping pressure and throwing accurately on a consistent basis. The win over the Bears marked the third time this season he threw at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions in a game.

–QB Drew Brees passed for 375 yards, his second-highest total of the season. His 80.6 completion percentage was his second highest, and his 137.8 passer rating was his third highest.

–Rookie S Pierre Warren had his first two interceptions, and ILB David Hawthorne had his first three sacks of the year. The Saints had only eight interceptions and 24 sacks in their first 13 games, but they recorded three interceptions and seven sacks against the Bears.

–WR Josh Hill, listed as the Saints’ No. 3 wide receiver, caught two short touchdown passes on his only two receptions of the game. On the season, he has 14 catches for 176 yards and five touchdowns.

What we learned about the Bears:

1. The teams is confused about what it is trying be. In the first quarter, the Bears ran the ball on a fake punt on fourth-and-3. They didn’t make it, and to boot, had only 10 players on the field. In the fourth quarter, they lined up to go for it on fourth-and-13 when they trailed by 16 points, but then they punted instead, virtually a sign of concession, after a false-start penalty made it fourth-and-18.

2. The defense is going to take a whole lot of rebuilding. New Orleans had receivers running wide open all over the field throughout the game. The Bears trailed by least 10 points in each of the past eight games, by at least 17 in six of them. They lost six of the eight games.

–QB Jay Cutler leads the NFL with 24 turnovers — 18 interceptions and six lost fumbles. It is Cutler’s highest interception total since he threw 26 in 2009, his first season with the Bears. However, his passer rating, 89.5, is at a career high. In Monday’s loss to the Saints, Cutler finished 17-for-31 for 194 yards with two touchdown passes and three interceptions.

–RB Matt Forte’s race to become the Chicago first player to gain 2,000 yards from scrimmage is slowing considerably. Forte had 78 yards rushing and 21 receiving against the Saints, leaving him with 1,677 yards from scrimmage this year. He must pick up the pace in the final two games — against the Lions and Vikings — if he is to reach the milestone.

–DE Willie Young recorded one sack against the Saints, giving him 9 1/2 for the season. He had only six, total, in three previous NFL seasons.


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