After a fantastic first half, maybe the best of the season, the Saints played some ugly and mostly conservative football to hang on 26-18 (led 20-7 at halftime). But a win is a win, particularly on the road with a field like that. Soldier Field was in horrific condition and footing was very difficult, affecting the offense negatively. Drew Brees played very smart and efficiently and the offense made just enough plays to win the game. Below are my bullets on the game:
- One of the plays of the game is Earl Bennett on 4th and 2 dropping an easy pass right in his hands that forced a furnover on downs. That pretty much killed the game for the Bears.
- Garrett Hartley and Thomas Morstead both had mammoth games. It feels good to have Saints' special teams so stable and consistent. Now if only we could break a big return.
- The defense got to Culter often early, but seemed to play it safer with less blitzing in the second half, which allowed the Bears to make more plays.
- The Saints defense held the Bears under 20, making it the 5th straight time this season a team hasn't crossed that barrier on them. Unbelievable feat.
- The Saints had more 4th and very shorts than I've maybe ever seen in a game. They only went for it once, with Pierre Thomas converting it on the ground. But Brees did convert another by drawing Lance Briggs offsides.
- The offensive line did ok. Considering this was on the road, it felt like a better performance. I wouldn't say they were "good" but they were mediocre. The Saints had a dismal 66 yards on 28 carries, but deserve credit for staying committed to the run and having a little success in short yardage situations. Brees was sacked twice and the pass protection was overall pretty good. At times they allowed the Bears way too deep in the backfield like we've seen the first four weeks, but they got better push at times especially early in the game to prevent the offense from being too one dimensional.
- Wide receivers not named Marques Colston are having almost no impact on the Saints' offense. Meachem, Toon and Stills combined for one catch as Brees seems to be going to PT, Sproles, Graham and Colston only.
- Junior Galette somehow never got a sack, despite being in Jay Cutler's face all day. Ditto Cam Jordan. The Saints ended up with 3 sacks all coming on blitzes.
- Alshon Jeffery had 10 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown. He was pretty much the entire Bears' offense.
- The offsides by Lance Briggs was one of the biggest bonehead moves I've ever seen. Too bad, because otherwise he played an absolutely oustanding game and was all over the field the entire game.
- Jed Collins had 4 catches and 3 rushes. I'm not sure he'll see 7 touches again this season!
- Ben Watson deserves credit for helping pass protection immensely and recovering the onsides kick late.
- Unrelated to this game, Tom Brady and the Patriots are no longer undefeated as they lost 13-6 to the Bengals. Brady did not throw a touchdown pass so Brees' consecutive games with a TD pass streak is safe.
- Another big NFC win, on the road no less, against a team that's a playoff contender. Make no mistake this is big for seeing and tiebreakers later.
- Once again Jimmy Graham could not be stopped. He had 100 yards at halftime and continues to torment each opponent he faces. His contract value continues to go up.
The Saints will now head to Foxboro next week for 6-0!