Brees' 3 TDs lead Saints past Bears, 30-13
NEW ORLEANS – Drew Brees kept New Orleans' offense rolling, and Jay Cutler had little chance of keeping up against a Saints defense determined to regain an intimidating edge.
Brees threw for three touchdowns, New Orleans' defense beat up on Cutler with six sacks, and the Saints defeated the Chicago Bears 30-13 on Sunday.
Brees' scoring strikes included a 79-yarder to Devery Henderson. Darren Sproles scored on a 12-yard swing pass and Robert Meachem had a 4-yard TD reception as the Saints (1-1) bounced back from an opening week loss to Green Bay.
Facing heavy blitzing and without injured receiver Roy Williams, Cutler passed for 244 yards and a score, but completed only 42 percent of his passes and fumbled once.
Running back Matt Forte had 117 yards receiving to go with 49 yards rushing for Chicago (1-1), which lost guard Gabe Carimi and safety Major Wright to injuries after entering the game without several other injured starters.
The Saints' defense bounced back from a difficult outing at Green Bay, where they yielded five touchdowns and missed a slew of tackles in a 42-34 season-opening loss.
They brought relentless pressure against a Bears offensive line that started the game without injured guard Lance Louis and then lost Carimi, their other starting guard, to a right knee injury.
Defensive end Turk McBride's sack and strip, which linebacker Jonathan Vilma recovered on the Bears' 29, set up Meachem's touchdown, which gave New Orleans a 23-13 lead in the third quarter.
Roman Harper and Junior Gallette each had two sacks, while linebacker Jonathan Casillas added another.
Cutler also was hit repeatedly as he threw, including once from the back side by safety Malcolm Jenkins, after which the Bears' beleaguered quarterback remained briefly on his knees with hands over each side of his helmet as if his ears were ringing. He wound up completing only 19 of 45 passes, with most of his success coming on dump-offs to Forte, a New Orleans-area native who played home games in the Louisiana Superdome when he starred for Tulane.
The Saints also allowed only 60 yards on the ground, and 12 of those yards came on Cutler's scramble.
Brees completed passes to eight targets, including three to Henderson for 103 yards. Tight end Jimmy Graham had six catches for 79 yards, ending one reception with a forceful head-on collision that shook up Wright.
Sproles caught eight passes for 43 yards. The Saints had 118 yards on the ground, with rookie Mark Ingram gaining a team-leading 51.
Forte had 50 yards rushing in the first quarter. He accounted for 60 yards, including a 42-yard run and 18-yard catch, to set up the first score of the game on Cutler's 8-yard TD pass to Dane Sanzenbacher.
New Orleans cut it to 7-3 on John Kasay's 31-yard field goal, then vaulted into the lead on Brees' deep heave to Henderson on a third-and-12 play. Henderson, still possessing the breakaway speed that made him a star at LSU, split Wright and Chris Conte to make the over-the-shoulder catch, then slipped their diving tackle attempts to make it 10-7 early in the second quarter.
The 41-year-old Kasay, signed after Garrett Hartley hurt his hip in the Saints' third preseason game, added field goals of 29 and 53 yards in the first half. The longest came after Brian de la Puente's false start botched an attempt to go for it on fourth-and-5 from the Bears 30, after which New Orleans opted for a field goal attempt to make it 16-7.
Robbie Gould pulled Chicago to 16-10 with a 42-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half.
Gould added a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter for Chicago's final points.