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Saints smother Bears in wild-card win

Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes and the New Orleans defense dominated in a 21-9 victory over the visiting Chicago Bears in an NFC wild-card game on Sunday afternoon.

The NFC South champion Saints, who were 12-4 in the regular season, advance to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round next Sunday. New Orleans won both regular-season meetings.

“I thought we tackled well as a team,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We’re fortunate to win the game, and yet there’s a lot of things we feel like we can do better.”

Brees completed 28 of 39 for 265 yards while Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky completed 19 of 29 for 199 yards.

The Bears, who finished the regular season 8-8 to claim the last wild card in the NFC, gained just 239 yards and 11 first downs, five of which came in the final two minutes.

“It’s not where we want to be. We have to learn from this and grow in a lot of different areas,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “Making the playoffs is great, but what we did today has to be a lot better.”

The Saints welcomed back their top two offensive weapons — wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle), who was activated off injured reserve, and running back Alvin Kamara, who scored six touchdowns on Christmas Day before being sidelined by testing positive for COVID-19.

“I got a first-round bye. I got a bye week,” said Kamara, who rushed for 99 yards on 23 carries.

But the Bears defense kept them and the New Orleans offense contained in the first half, which ended with the Saints holding a 7-3 lead.

On New Orleans’ first possession of the third quarter it put together an 85-yard drive that ended with Brees’ 6-yard touchdown pass to Latavius Murray.

Kamara ran in from the 3 for a touchdown to give the Saints a 21-3 lead with 8:50 remaining.

Trubisky threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham as time expired.

Brees connected with Thomas three times on the Saints’ first two possessions, the third completion being an 11-yard touchdown that gave New Orleans a 7-0 lead that stood at the end of the first quarter.

The Bears were in scoring range, but they passed on a field-goal attempt on fourth-and-4 at the Saints 34-yard line and Trubisky was stopped after scrambling for a 2-yard gain with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.

New Orleans missed a scoring opportunity of its own when Wil Lutz was wide right on a 50-yard field-goal attempt early in the second quarter.

John Jenkins recovered a fumble by Taysom Hill at the Saints’ 24, leading to Cairo Santos’ 36-yard field goal that cut the lead to 7-3 with 8:06 left in the first half.

–Field Level Media

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