The Chicago Bears’ offense faces new concerns about pass protection after Jay Cutler and crew were buried by a ferocious New Orleans defense in a 30-13 loss Sunday to the inspired Saints at the Superdome.
Whatever progress the Bears’ offensive line had made was erased Cutler was sacked six times. With starting guard Lance Louis out with an ankle injury and starting right tackle Gabe Carimi injured early in Sunday’s game, the Bears could not protect Cutler (19-of-45 for 244 yards, 67.3 passer rating), who showed his frustration on the sideline.
The Bears fell to 1-1 on the season and the Saints improved to 1-1.
“They played better than us, simple as that,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said afteward on WBBM-AM 780. “There were a couple of critical moments where we just didn’t get the job done, but this is just one game.”
Cutler’s voice was raspy afterward, which he attributed to being kicked in the throat during game, and he said it was difficult to call signals amid the din of the Superdome crowd. Asked about the pressure applied by the Saints’ defense, Cutler told WBBM, “They really got after us blitz-wise. … It’s not fun, makes my job more difficult. We need to stay out of those positions.”
Cutler later tweeted: “Tough game. Have to look at the film and get better. A lot of football left to play.”
New Orleans blew the game open early in the fourth quarter, increasing its lead to 30-13 on a 12-yard Drew Brees touchdown pass to Darren Sproles. Brees hit 26 of 37 passes for 270 yards, 3 touchdowns and a 118.1 pass rating.
“He’s a good quarterback,” Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said when asked about Brees’ performance the the ability of the Saints’ receivers to get open for him. “I’m sure there were some breakdowns on our end. … He’s a good quarterback, they have a good scheme and he knows where to throw the football.”
Asked about the emotional difficulty of playing a day after the funeral of his mother, Urlacher said, “There was a football game, you know, a big game to get ready for. … I went out there and played.”
The Bears lost Carimi to a knee injury. Earl Bennett left the game with a chest injury, and safety Major Wright was shaken up and left the game after making a third-quarter tackle.
The Bears led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, but the Saints struck quickly in the second period with a 79-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Devery Henderson to go ahead 10-7. They extended their lead to 16-7 on two second-quarter field goals by John Kasey.
On their second possession Sunday, the Bears got a 42-yard run from Matt Forte, as well as an 18-yard pass from Cutler to Forte. Cutler also hooked up with Bennett, who took a helmet to the mid-section from safety Roman Harper. Bennett was injured on the play and left the field but later returned.
Harper was flagged later in the drive for roughing the quarterback, moving the ball to the Saints’ 7.
The drive ended when Cutler passed seven yards to a wide-open rookie receiver Dane Sanzenbacher with 6:59 left in the first quarter. The drive covered 87 yards in 11 plays.
The Saints continued to pound the Bears defense midway through the second period, but New Orleans had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Kasay to make it 13-17. Cornerback Tim Jennings came up big on third down for the Bears, stopping Mark Ingram for a two-yard loss on third down.
The Saints got on the board with a 31-yard field goal by veteran John Kasey to make the score 7-3 with 25 seconds left in the first period. The drive covered 66 yards in 13 plays.
New Orleans took a 13-7 lead when Brees unloaded a 79-yard pass to Devery Henderson for a touchdown that beat Wright with 12:48 left in the second period.
The Saints continued to pound the Bears defense midway through the second period, but New Orleans had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Kasay to make it 13-7. Cornerback Tim Jennings came up big on third down for the Bears, stopping Mark Ingram for a two-yard loss on third down.
Kasay delivered a 53-yard field goal with 2:14 to go until halftime. It was Kasay’s 41st career field goal from beyond 50 yards.
The Bears salvaged a 42-yard field goal from Gould at the end of the half to make the score 16-10. The 10-play scoring drive covered 56 yards and included a 17-yard pass from Cutler to Forte.
When the Bears’ opening drive in the third quarter stalled, Gould booted a 38-yard field goal and the Saints lead was just 16-13. The 46-yard drive covered six plays.
The Bears turned the ball over when Cutler was sacked by Turk McBride and fumbled. The ball was recovered by Jonathan Vilma at the Bears’ 29. The Saints took advantage of the turnover by scoring on a 4-yard TD pass from Brees to Meachem to make it 23-13.
Wright went down with a head injury after trying to tackle Saints tight end Jimmy Graham with 44 seconds left in the third quarter. After being attended to by Bears trainers and the team doctor, Wright was able to walk to the sideline on his own and was taken to the locker room. Graham gained 15 yards on the pass play to the Bears’ 41.
The Saints increased their lead to 30-13 on a 12-yard TD pass reception by ;Sproles, even though a replay showed that he appeared to step out of bounds on the 1. The 14-play, 87-yard drive ate up 8 minutes, 1 second.
The Bears entered the contest with a 15-11 advantage over the Saints in a series that goes back to 1968. The Bears had won four straight in the series. The Bears were seeking a second straight 2-0 start, while the Saints were coming off a season-opening loss in Green Bay.