Saints Regain Form, Skin Bears: 3 Things We Learned
Monday night was typical of Drew Brees.
On a night where the past seven days were about as tense as the New Orleans Saints have been in quite some time, the offense set the tone the entire game and the defense showed up to hold Chicago to two late touchdowns in a 31-15 win. The victory wasn’t just important to head coach Sean Payton in getting his player to play their style of football, it allowed the tam to take a step forward and gain an outright lead in the NFC South at least for one week heading into a showdown at home versus Atlanta.
The 375 yards and three touchdowns by Brees was more indicative of his play – not the recent play of his team and the struggles this team has had on both offense with scoring and on defense with stopping their opponents. The Bears could not muster much during the first three quarters of the game before scoring their two meaningless touchdowns in the final minutes of the game.
The win now gives the Saints a 6-8 record and the top spot in their division with the Carolina Panthers a half game back at 5-8-1. Atlanta is a full game back at 5-9.
Here are three things we learned from this game Monday.
JAY CUTLER WAS PRETTY BAD
Cutler had one of his meltdowns on Monday night at home. Seven sacks made have contributed to it, but it looked like there was never any rhythm to the Bears offense. Brandon Marshall did not play and it showed that his absence hurt the passing game.
Cutler completed 17 of 31 passes for 194 yards, and the Bears couldn't get anything going. They managed only 278 yards against one of the league's worst defenses on a soggy night in which thousands of seats went unused.
ANOTHER BREES MILESTONE
Brees completed 29 of 36 passes and reached the 4,000-yard mark for the ninth straight year. He threw two touchdown passes to Josh Hill and another to Marques Colston.
Pierre Thomas had five catches for 83 yards. David Hawthorne had three of New Orleans' seven sacks, and the Saints intercepted Jay Cutler three times to bring his NFL-leading turnover total to 24.
Drew Brees completed 21-of-25 passes (84%) for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns on throws 10 yards downfield or shorter. Brees' 208 yards on short passes were his most in a game since Week 5 this season. Part of Brees' success in the short passing game came off play action. Brees was 7-of-8 for 85 yards and 2 touchdowns off play-action passes Monday. Brees had more touchdowns (3) than incompletions (1) when facing a standard pass rush.
Brees and Jimmy Graham connected for 5 receptions and 87 yards. Three of Graham's receptions came more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, accounting for 77 of his yards. However, Brees was 0-of-2 when targeting Graham inside the 20-yard line. Pierre Thomas had 2 receptions of 30+ yards in the 1st quarter. Thomas entered the game with three such receptions in his career. Thomas is the third running back with multiple 30+ yard receptions in a game this season, along with Le'Veon Bell and Darren Sproles.