It looks like the Chicago Bears will have to wait a bit longer to get their first three-game winning streak since 2013. The Bears (3-5) came up short against the New Orleans Saints, losing by the score of 20-12.
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The offense was well-balance, but only managed to score one touchdown (but it should have been two). The ground game was productive as usual, while the passing attack had an unsuspected leading receiver. On the other side of the ball, the defense did a solid job. The Saints’ high-powered offense scored below their season average of 28.5 points per game. Unfortunately, penalties and missed opportunities were the eventual downfalls for Chicago in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.
Here’s how things added up for the Bears in Week 8.
In the last two games, Mitchell Trubisky had only 23 pass attempts. Versus New Orleans, the rookie quarterback threw a career-high 32 passes, connecting on only 14 of them (43.8 percent) for 164 yards. Trubisky wasn’t very accurate, but did put his legs to good use, rushing for 53 yards on three carries—which included a 46-yard run on a third-and-10 in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, Trubisky’s final pass of the game landed in the hands of Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore to end the game.
Once again, Jordan Howard carried the load for Chicago on the ground. Howard finished the contest with 102 yards on 23 carries, but had a dropped pass in the red zone in the fourth quarter. Rookie Tarik Cohen gained only two yards on four carries, but his first career rushing touchdown with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter cut the Saints’ lead to five points.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tre McBride III looked as if he wants to be the team’s go-to receiver for the rest of the season. McBride finished the game with three catches for 92 yards, the most yards by any player for the Bears in a single game all season long. That was pretty much the only bright spot for Chicago’s pass catchers. Kendall Wright was the second-leading receiver with only 23 yards. Tight end Zach Miller sacrificed his body on a 25-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, dislocating his knee. But to add insult to injury, officials reversed the call, saying Miller didn’t have control of the ball once he hit the ground.
The offensive line took advantage of the matchup they had against the Saints’ 20th ranked run defense, and paved the way for Howard’s 100-yard day. When it came to protecting Trubisky, New Orleans recorded two sacks, and penetrated Chicago’s offensive front with a number of blitz packages that disrupted the Bears’ timing in the passing game. In the second quarter, one of those sacks pushed the ball back after the offense converted on two third downs—the result was a missed 48-yard field goal attempt. Charles Leno Jr. was flagged for a false start on the Bears’ final offensive drive after a huge kickoff return by Cohen.
The defensive front was a bit overmatched against the run. Saints running backs Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara combined for 103 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Akiem Hicks added another sack to his season total, while Jonathan Bullard forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that helped the Bears cut into the Saints’ lead.
The Bears’ linebackers found themselves out of position on a number of screen passes executed by New Orleans, but were still able to make enough stops to help the defense get off the field. Danny Trevathan led all defensive players with 13 tackles, while Christian Jones had seven tackles of his own and a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter. Leonard Floyd chipped in with a sack of his own on a third-down play.
None of the Saints’ receivers had huge games statistically, but they made big plays when it counted most. There were some missed tackles at times by the defensive backs on screen passes as well. Cornerback Kyle Fuller and rookie safety Eddie Jackson both were covering Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr, and allowed him to catch a 53-yard pass right before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. However, Adrian Amos bailed them out with a huge forced fumble and recovery two plays later.
Two mishaps on special teams played a major part in the Bears’ loss in the Big Easy. After forcing the Saints to kick a field goal on their first offensive possession of the game, Kyle Fuller lined up offside on a field goal attempt, giving New Orleans a first down—they scored a touchdown on the ensuing play. Before halftime, kicker Connor Barth continued his inconsistent ways my missing a 48-yard attempt. Late in the fourth quarter, with a final chance for a comeback, Cohen returned a kickoff 46 yards, giving the Bears their best starting position of the game.
For the first time in the past few weeks, Chicago’s coaching staff had a well-balanced offensive attack. John Fox and Dowell Loggains finally let Trubisky throw the ball, although they didn’t have much of a choice since they were trailing the entire game. Defensively, nothing no one figured out how to really stop those screen passes. Fox did lose a replay challenge, but that probably was a challenge worth taking, considering the field position they could have gotten with that possible fumble by Drew Brees.