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Saints March Over Bears 26-18

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Oct 7, 2013 3:30PM

For the second week in a row, the Bears found themselves in a big hole against an opponent, were able to chip away at the deficit a bit late in the game but not overcome it. The Bears' record fell to 3-2 with a 26-18 loss to New Orleans at Soldier Field.

The Saints capitalized on Bears mistakes to jump out to an early lead. A muffed handoff from Jay Cutler to Matt Forte led to a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. Cutler recovered the ball but it set up a quick three-and-out for the Bears. New Orleans followed up with a field goal on their first possession. When the Bears got the ball back, Cutler fumbled and lost the ball after being sacked and the Saints added three more points. New Orleans extended their lead to 13-0 on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Pierre Thomas, set up by passes of 29 and 38 yards from Brees to Jimmy Graham. The Bears finally got on the board with an Alshon Jeffrey touchdown catch from the 3-yard line with 2:41 left in the half. That would be as close as the Bears got to catching the Saints the rest of the afternoon. Pierre Thomas scampered 25 yards for a touchdown off a screen pass, and the Saints took a 20-7 lead into the locker rooms at the half.

The teams traded field goals to open the third quarter, and the Saints added yet another field goal in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 26-10. Cutler tried to rally Chicago, marching the Bears down for a touchdown late in the fourth. A 58-yard bomb to Alshon Jeffrey was the key play in a quick strike drive in which Cutler hit Brandon Marshall from 2 yards out. A two-point conversion cut the lead to eight and made it a one possession game. But the onsides kick was unsuccessful, and the Bears comeback attempt ran out of time.

With the team playing from behind most of the afternoon, Cutler had another big passing game. The Bears QB threw for 358 yards on 24 of 33 passing, with two TDs and no interceptions. Sunday's game was just the second time in Cutler's career where he lost while posting a QB rating over 100. (His rating Sunday was 128.1.) But Cutler was also hounded all afternoon by the Saints' blitzing and was sacked three times. With Brandon Marshall again finding it difficult to get involved in the offense, Cutler made Alshon Jeffrey his favorite target. The second year wideout set a Bears record with his 218 receiving yards, a mark that had stood for almost 60 years. He caught 10 of Cutler's 24 completions. Tight End Martellus caught five passes for 56 yards, despite getting shaken up for a time after a cartwheel hit. Running back Matt Forte, a repeated target on outlets to counter the Saints' blitzes, caught four passes for 40 yards, while Marshall also caught four passes, but for just 30 yards. Forte rushed for 55 yards on 12 carries.

The defense did a reasonable job at shutting down the Saints' high powered attack, even with a glaring hole in the middle of the front four. Having already lost Henry Melton for the year, defensive tackle Stephen Paea was inactive due to a toe injury. His replacement, Nate Collins, also left the game after injuring his knee. Having all three injured tackles shakes up the depth chart, especially with the short week. UPDATE: Collins also has torn ACL, and is done for the season.

The Bears take the field again on Thursday night, traveling to New York (well... technically New Jersey) to face the Giants in prime time. The disappointing Giants are still winless on the season. Hopefully, the Bears can right the ship against a team that's not as good as most expected. But the Giants are also a desperate team, looking to avoid falling to 0-6. Do they knock the Bears back to .500, or can the Bears bounce back and improve to 4-2?