Saints improve to 5-4 as second-half defensive effort stifles Bears

Now we can exhale. The New Orleans Saints made things more difficult than they needed to be against a bad Chicago Bears team, but a win is a win: and they’re now 5-4 while sitting alone on top of the NFC South. So how did we get here?

The Saints matched the Bears score-for-score in the first half while their defense hemorrhaged yards, especially to the underrated Chicago run game — helped by several unscripted scrambles from backup quarterback Tyson Bagent. The Bears racked up 250 yards from scrimmage going into halftime, but Dennis Allen’s defense found its composure in the second half.

New Orleans allowed just 114 total yards in the second half while holding the Chicago offense to three points on their final four possessions. Cornerback Paulson Adebo deserves recognition for playing the best game of his NFL career with two interceptions, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, three passes defensed, and seven tackles (five of them solo). He nearly willed the Saints to a win in the second half.

Offensively, Derek Carr managed only 211 passing yards with touchdown passes to Chris Olave (6 receptions for 46 yards) and Taysom Hill (4 catches for 13 yards), who had a touchdown pass of his own to Juwan Johnson (5 receptions for 29 yards). It wasn’t a great day for the Saints offense on the ground, but Hill paced the team with 11 carries for 52 rushing yards.

Things weren’t perfect — Blake Grupe missed a 47-yard field goal that would have made it a two-score game in the final minutes. But there were signs of improvement. For one thing, the Saints only drew a single penalty flag on the afternoon, ceding 5 yards on a Juwan Johnson false start. Two things can be true here: this is a game the Saints should have won more easily, but it was also a performance they can build upon. With one game left to go before the bye week, we’ll take it.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire