NEW ORLEANS – They came into the game as a major underdog, short of a few key players on both offense and defense against a veteran team looking for a Super Bowl run.
The odds weren’t looking great for the Bears to pick up their first victory in the playoffs since January of 2011 Sunday afternoon as they visited the second-seeded Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
Yet for a majority of the Wild Card game, the Bears were right with the NFC South champs, and had a few chances to seize control of the game. There was even the though of an upset dancing through fan’s heads late into the third quarter.
But like an entire season, the team was both encouraging and frustrating, and end the end very dissapointing.
With the offense struggling and void of the big play to turn the momentum of the game, the Saints finally broke through a competitive Bears’ defense in the final 20 minutes of the game. That helped them to a 21-9 victory that ends the season for Matt Nagy’s team, one that was a roller coaster ride from start to finish.
With an 8-9 overall record, their are plenty of questions about the future for the club, from the head coach, defensive coordinator, and, of course, now free agent quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Those are now on the minds of the Bears after their season came to an end on Sunday.
It didn’t have to, as the Bears managed to hold in for most of the night despite not having linebacker Roquan Smith, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, or wide receiver Darnell Mooney in the lineup. The Saints got a touchdown in the first quarter on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Mitchel Thomas, but that would be in for about two quarters.
The Bears would force a turnover in the second quarter and hold the Saints off the board for the rest of the half and most of the third quarter.
Like usual, the problem was with the Bears’ offense, which once against struggled to get anything going. Perhaps it was a bad omen when Javon Wims dropped a perfectly thrown Trubisky deep ball in the endzone, then the team couldn’t convert a fourth-and-four.
The unit had just 103 yards at halftime, with their only three points coming on a second quarter Cairo Santos field goal that was set up by a John Jenkins fumble recovery deep in Saints’ territory. Things got even worse for the offense when Anthony Miller was ejected after a shoving match with Saints defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
As the offense continued to struggle, the Saints offense finally was able to punch one in. Aided by Eddie Jackson jumping off sides on a fourth down in the red zone, Brees found Latavius Murray for a six-yard score to make it 14-3.
New Orleans chewed up time on the clock with their next drive, taking up 8:51 on a 15-play, 64-yard drive that finished on a three-yard Alvin Kamara scoring run to make it 21-3.