The New Orleans Saints are back on track after notching their first win of the season over the visiting Chicago Bears. New Orleans played much better defensively then they did last week against the Green Bay Packers, where they surrendered 21 points in the first quarter
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 244 yards in the game, and one touchdown during the teams opening offensive possession. It would be the last time the Bears scored a touchdown in the game.
The Saints defensive allowed the Bears to convert only 2 of 16 third down attempts after giving up the opening score, holding them to two field goals the rest of the way.
Cutler was terrorized by the Saints defense who sacked him six times, including three times in a row in the fourth quarter, as they were able to consistently pressure him through all four quarters. Cutler completed only 42% of his passes and fumbled once.
All told the Saints defense held Chicago’s offense to 246 total net yards and 3.9 yards gained per offensive play.
Roman Harper starred once more this week after ten tackle performance against Green Bay — recording seven tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble — after being questionable all week leading up to the game.
Junior Galette, the undrafted rookie out of Tillman, also tied Harper’s team leading two sack total. Galette is filling in at right defensive end with Jeff Charleston while starter Will Smith serves a two-game suspension for his involvement with the supplement StarCaps.
Smith will make his return to the lineup next week, but Galette looked nearly un-stoppable when rushing the passer. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will likely find a way to get Galette on the field with Smith at the same time after his performance.
Drew Brees lead the Saints to three touchdowns, passing for each one. He was a crisp 26 of 37 for 270 yards to go along with the three scores. Brees was step ahead of the Bears all day, getting the ball out quickly before the pass rush arrived.
Prior to today’s game it was noted that a likely plan of attack for the Saints against the Bears would be to attack their safeties down the field with the vertical passing game.
To compensate for Chris Harris’ loss, who sat out with a hamstring, the Bears slid starting free safety Major Wright over to strong safety, and back filled his spot with recently acquired ex-Patriot Brandon Meriweather.
New Orleans exploited this match up, sending Devery Henderson vertical when the Bears showed their Tampa-2 look. The result was a beautiful rainbow pass over the top to Henderson for a 79-yard touchdown reception.
The touchdown grab was the Saints longest play from scrimmage this season. On the next offensive series Brees found tight end Jimmy Graham for a 31 yard gain, once again on a vertical route down the seam and over the safeties.
Henderson would finish as the Saints leading receiver with three receptions for 103 yards, his second 100 yard receiving game in as many weeks.
On the ground the Saints offensive totaled 118 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry collectively. Mark Ingram was the leading rusher with 51 yards on 14 carries, followed closely by Pierre Thomas with 41 yards on nine carries.
Darren Sproles accounted for 84 yards from scrimmage and caught one of Brees touchdowns passes on a twelve yard catch and run in the fourth quarter. He continues to mesh well with the Saints offense in his first year with the team.
New Orleans needed a win not only to keep pace in the ultra-competitive NFC, but the win/loss could have repercussions later in the season when determining the next NFC South champion as the Bears beat the Falcons with ease in week one.
The Saints will stay at the Superdome next week where they will take on the Houston Texans, the team that gave them a wallop during the match up week two of the preseason.
But that was with a vanilla offensive and defensive scheme, much will be different this time around.