Morning Box Score: Bears Mauled by Saints 30-13
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 19, 2011 3:00PM
Remember when the Bears clobbered the Falcons 30-12 a week ago? Good times. Yesterday's visit to the Superdome? Not so much.
The New Orleans Saints pounded Jay Cutler into the ground all day long and manhandled the Bears 30-13 in an emotional game the day after Brian Urlacher buried his mother.
The Bears jumped out to an early lead when they drove 87 yards to score a touchdown. The drive was highlighted by a 42-yard Matt Forte run and capped when Jay Cutler found rookie Dane Sanzenbacher in the end zone on an eight-yard pass. The Saints countered with a field goal on their ensuing possession, then scored the go-ahead points when Drew Brees connected on a 79-yard touchdown to Devery Henderson.
New Orleans extended the lead 13-7 as they added two Jon Kasay field goals. A 42-yard Robbie Gould field goal as the half expired cut the Saints lead to 16-10 at intermission. Another Bears field goal cut the Bears' deficit to just three points early in the third quarter, but that's as close as they'd get. A blind side sack of Cutler by Turk McBride forced a fumble, which the Saints turned into seven more points. They added a fourth quarter touchdown to cap a 14-play, 87-yard drive and finish the scoring for both teams.
Despite a balanced offensive attack in their early touchdown drive, the Bears and Mike Martz inexplicably went with a pass happy offense that failed to produce the rest of the game. In the first half, Cutler repeatedly threw the ball away when he was unable to find receivers and ate FieldTurf after releasing the ball. It only got worse after halftime, as he ended up being sacked six times and was kicked in the throat on one play. These weren't ticky-tack sacks, either. These were blind side hits by defensive players who had blown right past blockers (we're looking at you, Kellen Davis) to hit Cutler with a full head of steam. Already playing without starting right guard Lance Louis, the Bears lost rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi right before halftime.
Yet Martz somehow thought it was best to throw behind a mediocre line that was missing 40 percent of its starters. Martz's game plan included just 12 running plays, only two running plays in the second half. It was the second-fewest running plays ever for a Bears team. It's not even like a big deficit forced the air attack, as the Bears were down by as few as three halfway through the third quarter thanks to a defense that kept limiting the Saints to field goals. Hurried and hit all afternoon, Cutler completed just 19 of 45 pass attempts for 244 yards. Matt Forte caught ten of those passes for 117 yards, while also adding 49 yards on the ground on 10 carries. While the defense held the Saints to three points on a number of occasions that could have resulted in touchdowns, the defense also didn't produce the momentum-shifting turnovers on which the Bears rely. They kept the Bears in the game for as long as they could, but the team just could not overcome the Saints' relentless blitz and Martz's ineffective game plan.
The third leg of the Bears brutal three-game stretch to open the season wraps up with the Packers visiting Soldier Field next Sunday. Which Bears team will show up -- the one that beat a playoff team by 19 or the one that lost to a playoff team by 17? We're all curious to see. We can only hope that Lovie Smith stages the running game intervention this week, rather than waiting until the bye week like last season.