After struggling to contain the New Orleans Saints’ blitzing schemes in the first half, the Chicago Bears were facing an uphill battle in the second half.
On the opening drive of the second half, the Saints went on a 13-play drive that resulted in a field goal. That field goal gave the Saints a 23-to-7 lead at the time.
On the Bears’ first series of the second half, a 42-yard pass from Bears’quarterback Jay Cutler to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery set the Bears up in the red zone. That is where the Bears’ drive halted as a first down penalty on Kyle Long hindered the momentum for the team. That being said, the Bears came away with a field goal and were once again within two touchdowns of the Saints.
While the Bears offense certainly has improved in the red-zone this season considering the team has essentially eliminated their turnovers in the red-zone, there still is room for improvement. It seems as if the Bears have a pass-first mentality while in the red zone and that often has thwarted the successes of multiple offensive drives this season for the Bears.
Fortunately for the Bears, their defense kept the team within striking distance. The Saints went the rest of the third quarter without a score after kicking a field goal on their opening possession. Meaning that gave Cutler and the Bears’ offense a chance as the team entered the fourth quarter trailing by two possessions.
The Bears’ opening drive of the fourth quarter began on their own 1-yard line and after 12 plays, the Bears were facing a fourth down situation on the Saints’ 25-yard line. The Bears conversion attempt was unsuccessful as Earl Bennett was unable to maintain possession on a pass that would have given the Bears’ a fresh set of downs.
The Saints were also put in a fourth down situation on the corresponding series and Brees forced a penalty on linebacker Lance Briggs that gave the team a fresh set of downs. After a field goal gave the Saints a 26-to-10 lead, the Bears were facing a two possession deficit with only three minutes left in the game.
The Bears seemed to have found a sense of urgency late in the fourth quarter as Cutler went over 300 passing yards on the game with a 58-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery finished the game with a team-record 218 receiving yards. Cutler then went on to throw his second touchdown pass of the game connecting with Brandon Marshall in the end zone. After a successful two-point conversion, the Bears were unable to recover an onside kick. To that end, these past two weeks have highlighted the struggles that Bears’ kicker Robbie Gould has onside kicks. For his career, Gould is 0-for-11 on onside kick attempts.
No miracle happened for the Bears as the team went on to lose 26-to-18.
Something that should be questioned was the Bears’ sense of urgency on the drive that began the fourth quarter. The Bears were facing a two-possession deficit and the team showed no real sense of urgency. The Bears essentially ate up the first 7 minutes of the fourth quarter and had nothing to show for it.
Lacking a sense of urgency is something that has been a problem for the Bears the entire season. While the composure of the Bears’ offense was praised in the first two games of the season, in losses to the Detroit Lions and Saints, the Bears nonchalant mentality on offense may have been the difference between the teams two come from behind victories and two losses on the season.
The Bears defense, while limiting the Saints offense, failed to generate a turnover. Going into the game against the Saints, that is something the team needed to. When the Bears defense is not creating turnovers, that allows opposing offenses to control the pace of the game. That was the case on Sunday as the Bears struggled to match the pace of the Saints.
Though unlike the Bears’ game against the Lions, the Bears loss on Sunday to Saints was on the offense. The opportunity was there for the Bears to win Sunday’s game, though, Cutler and the Bears’ offense just struggled to establish any sort of sustained success. The late touchdown by the Bears in the fourth quarter was the only time in the game that the team showed any sort of urgency.
The Bears now will prepare on a short-week to play the New York Giants on Thursday night.