NEW ORLEANS (CBS/AP) — In what CBS 2’s Matt Zahn described as a “frustrating, mistake-filled performance,” the Bears ended their season Sunday with a loss to the New Orleans Saints in their NFC wild-card playoff matchup.
The final score was 21-9 Saints.
It has been 26 years since the Bears (8-9) won a road playoff game, and that tradition continued Sunday. As CBS 2’s Luke Stuckmeyer reported, the Saints offered up plenty of chances – and the Bears responded with dumb plays and embarrassment.
“It comes down to execution and there’s some things I think we could do differently game planning just to put ourselves in a better position early on,” quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said, “but it always comes down the basics at the end of the day. We shot ourselves in the foot a lot. I didn’t think we played very smart tonight with the penalties, and it was just sloppy.”
“You know, making the playoffs is great, but what we did today has to be a lot better. It’s not where we want to be,” said Head Coach Matt Nagy. “So we understand we’ve got to grow with this. We’ve got to learn in a lot of different areas.”
“We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot, and it just came down to it was one of those games,” said Bears safety Tashaun Gipson.
“I think that we were in it, you know, 90, 85 percent of the game, I feel like we were right there on the cusp of switching the momentum and making another big play for us to come out on top,” said Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. “But unfortunately, that moment just never came. It didn’t come. So you’ve got to live with that. You’ve got to live with it.”
The Bears were already missing some key players with injuries, and this game could have been the last for Trubisky with the Bears.
The Saints got on the board first – quarterback Drew Brees passed 11 yards to Michael Thomas and the Saints scored a touchdown.
The Bears were ready to respond with the next drive and had a bag of tricks. David Montgomery passed to Cordarrelle Patterson, and then the ball went to Trubisky before a gorgeous 40-yard pass to Javon Wims dropped in the end zone.
But Wims whiffed, and the Bears got nothing on that drive.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunities like that,” Trubisky said. “You get your guy pretty wide open – a play we’ve been practicing in the last few weeks.”
Meanwhile, the Bears got deep into Saints territory on another early play, but Cole Kmet was hit with a horrible unsportsmanlike conduct call – as referees said he threw the ball at a ref. That moved the drive backwards.
Gipson finally set up the Bears’ first points and might have prevented a Saints score on the same play. He got his hand on the ball as Taysom Hill attempted to throw deep with a receiver breaking into the clear. The ball fluttered forward just a few yards and defensive lineman John Jenkins caught it, setting up Cairo Santos’ 36-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Those were the Bears’ only points for the majority of the game.
The Bears did put forth a scrappy performance defensively that prevented the Saints from building more than a one-touchdown lead, all until Murray’s 6-yard catch-and-run score made it 14-3 late in the third quarter.
That score resulted from a big Bears mistake: Safety Eddie Jackson, lined up for an apparent blitz, jumped offside on fourth-and-3 from the Bears 13-yard line.
Overall, the Bears’ offense struggled most of the game against a defense that ranked fourth in the NFL. Trubisky completed 19 of 29 passes for 199 yards and one inconsequential TD pass to tight end Jimmy Graham as time expired. The Bears were held to 48 yards rushing.
Bears starting receiver Anthony Miller was ejected for shoving Saints defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson after a failed third-down play early in the second half. Gardner-Johnson also was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct but not ejected. That marked the second time this season a Bears player was thrown out for action taken against Gardner-Johnson after the whistle. During a regular-season meeting, Bears receiver Javon Wims was ejected and suspended two games for punching Gardner-Johnson.
Bears: Reserve safety DeAndre Houston-Carson was being evaluated for a concussion during the second quarter. … Defensive back Sherrick McManus left with a hamstring injury in the first half.
Saints: Cornerback Patrick Robinson and running back Latavius Murray each were checked for thigh injuries in the second half.
Bears: Head into offseason with uncertainty surrounding the futures of general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy. The Bears have reached the playoffs twice since Pace took over in 2015, both times under Nagy, who was hired in 2018. The Bears lost their playoff opener both times.
Saints: Host Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round of the playoffs, the third meeting this season between the NFC South rivals and their over-40 star QBs. The Saints won each regular season matchup by double digits.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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