After Further Review: Five takes from Saints win over Bears
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Imperfect, yet significant win
Sunday’s win over Chicago wasn’t perfect. Fortunately for the Saints though, it didn’t have to be.
The Saints faced a rookie quarterback making his third start, created five takeaways, committed just one penalty at home and yet somehow narrowly escaped with a seven-point win.
The pessimist would say that’s hardly a cause for celebration. The optimist may say wins in the NFL are hard and getting the victory is all that matters.
The realist would say, who cares? Both sides are accurate. But the bottom line is the Saints are 5-4 at the midway point of this 2023 NFL season and hold sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
Take Two: Defensive roller coaster
At one point in the game Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent was in complete control. The Saints simply had no answer for the elusive, athletic and poised backup quarterback. Bagent had the ball moving in the first half. He was gashing the Saints off the bootleg running and throwing the ball. The Saints were caught multiple times with no defenders in the flat which Bagent exploited multiple times early. His play was big part of why the Bears had the game tied at 14 at halftime.
In the second half, the Saints regrouped a bit and were able to keep the scoring down to just three points. The game never got too far out of hand because that side of the ball offset their struggles with a season high five takeaways. The final tally was three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, and the Saints needed every bit of it.
All in all, it was not the defense’s best effort. The front seven in particular struggled mightily. They surrendered 156 yards on the ground and let a rookie quarterback dictate the pace of the game early on. In the end though, they made enough big plays to win.
Take Three: Adebo’s finest hour
Have a day, Paulson Adebo.
In his finest hour as a pro, Adebo finished with: seven tackles, two interceptions, three pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
His first interception came in zone coverage and helped set up the Saints first touchdown of the game. His forced fumble and recovery came on a first down completion that helped set up a Blake Grupe field goal that gave the Saints their first lead of the game in third quarter. Adebo’s final interception in the fourth quarter helped close the game out.
Adebo was a monster for the Saints defense Sunday. Without his effort, the Saints don’t beat the Bears.
Take Four: Taysom makes history
Taysom Hill was at it again on Sunday. He was the best player on the field for the Saints offense and even made a little history in the process.
At the 6:08 mark of the second quarter, Derek Carr found Hill for a two-yard touchdown reception. That TD catch made him the first player since Frank Gifford to score at least ten touchdowns throwing, rushing and receiving.
The milestone put Hill’s unique skillset in perspective. Gifford finished his career in 1964. In today’s NFL, to do the things Hill is doing on a weekly basis is simply remarkable.
For good measure, Hill also threw a touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson. Plus, when it came time to close the game out on the Bears, the player they trusted most wore #7 for the Saints.
Take Five: Other Observations
- On that touchdown pass to Johnson, the play was initially designed for Khaulen Saunders but Taysom had to go away from him when he drew double coverage.
- Solid day of work for Derek Carr. He was accurate and took care of the football. He connected on two first half touchdown passes and was patient working the underneath all day. After a rough game against Jacksonville, Carr has responded with back-to-back good efforts.
- Michael Thomas didn’t have a catch Sunday. However, Carr said his presence helped open up plays for other players
- One of those plays went to Chris Olave for the Saints first touchdown of the game. Carr stayed patient in the pocket and was able to connect with Olave for the score.
- What red zone issues? The Saints scored on their first three trips inside the 20.
- Not sure what happened with Alvin Kamara on his screen pass near the end of the half. He appeared to have enough room to get out of bounds but stayed in. The Saints were forced to burn a timeout with nine seconds left. Had Kamara gotten out of bounds, the Saints may have been able to try a play in the middle of the field to get a field goal before halftime.
- Blake Grupe made a 55-yard field goal but doinked one off the upright from 47 that would have put the game away. It’ll be interesting to see where the Saints confidence level in Grupe currently is.
- A big one in Minnesota next week. Historically, the Saints have never matched up well against the Vikings. To get to 6-4 at the bye would be huge for this team.
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