The Chicago Bears (3-2) fell to the unbeaten New Orleans Saints (5-0) 26-18 Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. This was the Bears’ second straight loss, however they remained tied for first in the NFC North due to the Green Bay Packers beating the Detroit Lions 22-9.
Like last week against the Lions, the Bears allowed the Saints to get out to an early lead and were not able to overcome the deficit.
While the defense held the Saints to two first-quarter field goals, they allowed two touchdowns to end the second quarter and the Saints took a 20-7 lead into the locker room. A red flag that seems to rear its head more often than not these days is the fact they get going too late and allow the opposing team to get out to an early lead.
They also struggled early defending the blitz, as they gave up three in the first 16 minutes of the game. The numbers for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler would suggest a victory, but that was not the case. Cutler threw for 358 yards, his second straight 300+ yard game, going 24-for-33 with two touchdowns along with a fumble caused by Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. He also had his highest quarterback rating in a loss, at 128.1.
Chicago Bears receiver lone bright spot in loss
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery continued to impress, as he had a Bears-record 218 yards on 10 catches with a touchdown. Jeffery broke a 59-year-old team record of 214 yards in a game, set by Harlon Hill back in 1954. He is also just the third player in franchise history to finish with 200 yards in a game. While this historic feat will not go unnoticed by anyone, it will unfortunately be pushed to the back burner due to the Bears’ loss in a game in which they needed to show they can beat a conference heavyweight.
Brandon Marshall was quiet this game, although he had a two-yard touchdown catch to pull the Bears within 10 in the late fourth quarter. Running back Matt Forte added a two-point conversion to make it an eight point game. The comeback effort was thwarted, however, when an onside kick was recovered by the Saints.
Just when the Bears were looking to get things going finally in the second quarter, the Saints bounced right back. Cutler engineered a seven play, 80-yard drive which ended in a 3-yard Jeffery touchdown to cut the lead to 13-7 with about three minutes remaining. With :23 seconds remaining in the half, Saints wideout Pierre Thomas turned a screen pass from Drew Brees into a 25-yard touchdown, giving them the 20-7 halftime lead.
Brees threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns on 29 completions. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham tied an NFL record with another 100-yard game, and that connection of Brees to Graham proved too much for the Bears to handle. The Bears limited their turnovers Sunday, but it was costly mistakes that did them in against a team that took full advantage.
The Bears could have pulled within one touchdown in the fourth quarter, but a Cutler pass was dropped by receiver Early Bennett on a crucial drive in which the quarterback drove the team from their own one-yard line to the Saints’ 25.
Another glaring mistake in the game was when linebacker Lance Briggs jumped offside on fourth-and-one with six minutes to play, a tactic the Saints unsuccessfully tried earlier in the game.
While the turnovers were limited Sunday, other crucial things seemed to go out the window. The Bears need to get back to basics this week in practice — specifically time management (the Bears had no timeouts and got to their own 41 with a chance to possibly tie the game before time ran out),and watching the ball especially in crucial situations (Briggs’ uncharacteristic jump offsides in the fourth quarter). These mistakes are fixable with practice, but the Bears have to focus on defense and finishing drives along with fundamentals if they want to make noise in the NFL moving forward.
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