It's New Orleans this week. Home of paper-bag-wearing fans, the Neville and Marsalis clans, crawfish Po' Boys, Girls Gone Wild and Super Bowl XX. Bears 46, Patriots 10. Grab your beignets and café au lait. Aiee!
This game's in Champaign, I'm told. Never mind.
OK, let's get this started. Welcome, everyone. As always, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Saints' John Carney, no relation to Art, kicks off and Rabih Abdullah takes it out to the 22. ... Anthony Thomas runs right for 3 yards on first down. ... Miller throws two short passes to Marty Booker, not on the same play, of course, and the Bears are short and forced to punt on their first possession.
After a Deuce McAllister run for a loss, Aaron Brooks thows to Joe Horn close but short of the first-down marker. ... On third and short McAllister catches a screen pass but fumbles and the Bears recover. Mike Brown was cut down, got up and stipped the ball. Highlight-reel stuff there.
First and 10 on their own 49, Anthony Thomas runs up the middle for a gain of 2. ... Jim Miller throws to tight end John Davis for a gain of 14. ... The dreaded wide-receiver screen works as Dez White follows his blockers to another first down. ... By the way, Big Cat Williams is playing today, his 121st start in a row. ... Thomas runs again and Miller, under pressure, throws incomplete on second down. ... Miller throws to fullback Stanley Pritchett and Prichett bulls his way to another Bears first down, at the Saints' 15. ... Miller pass is tipped and cornerback Fred Thomas, who nearly catches the ball on the run. He would've been gone. Oh, boy, the Bears dodged disaster there. Terrell was open in the end zone. ... Third down and Miller goes for it but it's incomplete. ... Paul Edinger hits a 31-yard field goal and the Bears lead.
Bears 3, Saints 0
I don't know if I can take these horrible Coors Light commercials for the next few hours. You know the ones. Watching my team win ... with the twins. They are pandering just a bit too much to the 18-34 dem., don't you think?
After the kickoff, the Saints start from their own 33. McAllister runs twice, once backwards and then for a gain of 4. ... On third and 6, Brooks' pass is picked off by Reggie Austin, who gets up and returns the ball about 20 yards. ... New Orleans challenges whether Austin was down by contact. Looks like he was. Either way, Austin, making his first NFL start, comes up with a great interception. ... Review is taking forever.
While we wait, just asking: Ever go to McDonald's after the breakfast deadline and beg them to make you an Egg McMuffin? Me neither. Let's move on.
Austin is ruled down and the Bears start at their own 48. ... As usual, Thomas runs up the middle on first down, picking up 7. ... You guessed it, Thomas runs up the middle and picks up the first down. The line is opening up more holes early than they did in the first two games. ... Big Cat makes a great block and Thomas busts one into the open field and is finally tackled at the 16. A 24-yard run, Thomas' longest of the year... A short gain by Thomas and a short pass to tight end Fred Baxter brings up third and 5 from the 10. ... Miller has a lot of time, waits and hits Dez White for the touchdown. Unlike last week, Dez hangs on to this one. ... The Bears go for two as Chris Chandler comes in at QB with Brian Urlacher lines up wide. This could be interesting. And, it's not. The Bears take a delay-of-game penalty and Edinger comes on to kick.
Bears 10, Saints 0
Just asking: Ever go to McDonald's after the breakfast deadline, beg them to make you an Egg McMuffin and get a Kennedy half dollar and a Sacagawea as change? Is this legal tender? Again, let's move on.
Taking a page out of the Bears' book last week, the Saints are called for a personal foul on the kickoff and have to start from the 10. ... Brooks throws incomplete and then linebacker Warrick Holdman breaks up a pass to the tight end. ... Another dink to the tight end and Urlacher just eats him up. ... The Saints punt and can't even do this right. Illegal formation on the punt and the Bears make them kick it again and it almost backfires. Leon Johnson bobbles the kick but dives on it.
On second and 14 after a false start penalty and a short run from Thomas, Miller hits Booker for 14. The Bears are picking on cornerback Michael Hawthorne. Booker was wide open there. ... Another nice run by Thomas and the quarter ends.
The Bears are really moving. The line is making holes, Thomas is finding them and the passing game is working.
It's nice to see the McDonald's bobblehead doll recall isn't affecting Thomas or Urlacher. Urlacher hit that tight end so hard that his helmet popped off and Thomas is having his best game of the year.
Thomas catches a short pass and picks up the first down and then runs up the middle for 2. ... Miller is blasted by a blitzing corner but lofts one over to a wide-open Booker in the end zone. There's that strange touchdown dance from Booker. Marcus Robinson, apparently so frustrated for not getting any passes, takes the ball from Booker and spikes it in the barricade. A team effort from the Bears even on the celebrations.
Bears 17, Saints 0
You kind of get the feeling the Bears are tired of being called lucky, tired of playing flat first halves. It's probably too early for this but it might be a good time for Saints fans to pull those paper bags out. They have no first downs, two turnovers and have been outplayed on both sides of the ball.
Make that three turnovers. Incomplete, incomplete and then from the shotgun, the Saints snap the ball while Brooks is calling an audible. Rookie linebacker Bryan Knight falls on it at the 12. Total chaos for New Orleans.
Thomas runs for a couple and then Miller throws to the end zone but it sails high. ... A short pass on third down is well short and Edinger comes out for a 25-yard attempt. It's good. The Bears should've gotten more than a field goal out of that gift.
Bears 20, Saints 0
The Saints are frustrated. A late hit on the kickoff brings another personal-foul call.
Hey, a New Orleans first down. McAllister takes a screen pass and picks up close to 20. ... The Saints pull out their own dreaded wide-receiver screen. Todd McMillon holds up Donte' Stallworth and Urlacher blasts him. I'll have to pull out my HTML book to look up the coding for that little accent on the end of Stallworth's first name. ... The Saints pick up two straight first downs. Big ol' Keith Traylor made a hit down field on the second play. ... Ball at the Bears' 34 and Joe Horn uses a pick by the official and catches a pass on crossing pattern but Mike Brown nearly cuts him in half. The Saints are moving but the Bears are making ferocious hits. ... A pass-interference penalty moves the ball to the 16 and Brooks finds Jerome Pathon for a touchdown.
Bears 20, Saints 7
Brooks completed seven straight passes on that 80-yard drive. I hope that bag crack wasn't a jinx.
Jinx it was. Johnson loses the kick in the sun, the ball hits him in the head and the Saints recover at the 10.
Make that the 8, first and goal. On second down, Brooks out-runs McKenzie, makes a move around Urlacher and then goes over the top for the touchdown. He nearly did a flip.
Bears 20, Saints 14
Johnson checks the sun again as the Saints prepare to kick. He catches it and hears some sarcastic cheers from the crowd.
Davis drops a Miller pass on first down and the Bears look like the Saints did early on. ... Thomas runs for 5 and then is forced out just short of the first down. John Shoop rips his headset off and the Bears challenge the spot. There has to be a better song to play during reviews than "Freeze Frame" by the J. Geils Band. Fourth and inches and the Bears go for it. Just for kicks, the officials measure again. That would've been funny if it was a first down this time. ... On a call from George Halas himself, Miller takes it up the middle for a first down. Geez, Miller bobbled the snap and still made it. ... The Bears waste a down on the dreaded wide-receiver screen to Marcus Robinson for no gain. ... Since it worked so well, they go short again to Robison but this time he picks up 7. ... Miller is sacked by three Saints on third down and all that replay nonsense was for nothing. Punt coming up after the two-minute warning.
Brad Maynard got all of that punt and two flags fly. One is a block in the back on the Saints. Saw that one with my own eyes. The other, the official tells us, is a hold against the Saints and that moves them back to the 6. ... The Bears blitz but Brooks cooly dumps the ball to McAllister, who picks up 7. ... Brooks throws a bullet to tight end David Sloan, covered only by safety Mike Green. ... On first down from the their own 45, the Saints looks confused and Brooks throws it away. ... McMillon breaks up a pass and then the Bears blitz Brooks and he runs backwards 20 yards. Another block in the back agains the Saints and they have to punt. The Bears defense has made some adjustments and they're coming on all kinds of blitzes.
With 52 seconds on the clock, the Bears start at their own 23. ... With 77 yards to go in less than a minute, Miller pitches to Johnson, who doesn't lose the ball in the sun but doesn't get much yardage either. ... A short pass to White and it doesn't look like the Bears are trying to do much here. White did get a first down. ... Booker makes a catch up the middle and ducks under two converging Saints, who take each other out. One isn't getting up. Hawthorne walks off, but slowly. His teammate Sammy Knight nearly took his head off. That was a violent collision. ... With 4 seconds left, Edinger trots on for a 58-yard attempt. The kick sails wide right as the half ends. It was long enough.
Facing third and 6, the Saints get some help from the Bears' Bryan Robinson who is called for lining up in the neutral zone. ... McAllister picks up the first down and then Brooks completes a 42-yard pass to the Bears' 30. ... Brooks hits Stallworth on third and 8 for a gain of 9 and the first down. The Saints are moving on the first possession of the second half. ... Brooks is chased out of the pocket by Warrick Holdman, but unlike Michael Vick last week, who chose to stay in bounds and pay the price, Brooks finds the sideline. ... Third and inches inside the Bears' 10, Brooks puts his head down and follows his line to a first down. Urlacher took a shot over the top, but Brooks ducked under. ... Pressured by Traylor, Brooks stays calm and hits Horn in the end zone. Great throw by the Saints' QB, who picked the Bears' defense apart on that nearly 7-minute drive. The penalty against Robinson certainly didn't help, but Brooks ran when when needed and calmly hung out in the pocket when he had time.
Saints 21, Bears 20
Just like that it's third and long. But Miller makes a sweet throw and Booker makes a finger-tip catch down the sideline for the first down. ... Thomas runs for 4 to the Bears' 47 and then Miller looks to throw long but ball is tipped and falls incomplete. Another third and long. ... An over-the-top pass the Robinson goes right through the receiver's hands. Robinson looked awkward on that attempt but the ball might have been tipped by the corner. ... The Bears are facing way too many third downs, way too many third and longs. ... Maynard kicks and the punt rolls out of bounds inside the 10.
A short gain by McAllister and a botched snap brings up third and long for New Orleans. ... Pathon drops a pass but Mike Brown nails him anyway. A false start moves the Saints back even further and Brooks has to throw out of the end zone. The pass to Pathon is broken up by Jerry Azumah. Brown was there again but held up as the ball sailed by. Johnson, always an adventure fielding kicks, makes a fair catch and the Bears are called for unnecessary roughness.
The Bears start at mid-field. No gain and a 2-yard run and it's third and long again. Imagine that. ... Miller steps up in the pocket and the pass to Booker is batted down. The Bears want interference; they'll have to settle for another Maynard punt.
Moby doesn't even wait until his latest song is out of current radio-play rotation to sell it for commercial use. I guess that's how it goes these days.
OK, the Saints again start inside the 10 and again run McAllister on first down. He picks up 3. ... And again Robinson is called for lining up in the neurtal zone on third down. First down Saints. ... Colvin finally gets to Brooks for the Bears' first sack of the day. But the Bears come right back and give the Saints another first down via penalty as Reggie Austin is called for illegal contact on Stallworth. ... Another third and long and another flag but this time the Saints are flagged for a false start. ... Brooks hits Pathon on third and 15 but he's stopped short of the first down. That's the end of the third quarter.
Johnson fields the punt, holds on and two flags fly. The penalties offset and the Saints will kick again. Not a bad option, considering Johnson has looked like Jose Conseco back there. Johnson is OK with this kick and makes a fair catch around the 20.
Thomas runs twice and is close to a first down but it brings up third and 2. ... Play action and Miller hits Davis for a first down. ... Play action again, Miller goes to White who is mugged by corner Ken Irvin. The pass-interference penalty gives the Bears a first down and moves them into Saints territory. ... The offense has found a bit of rhythm as Miller hits Davis again for another first down. ... A short pass to Thomas picks up 9. ... Thomas blasts up the middle for the first down and this looks like the Bears of the first quarter. ... The Saints are called for illegal contact on Dez White and that's another first down. ... But just like that it's third and 5 from the 7 and the Bears get nothing. They run twice in the short red zone and have to kick another field goal. ... Edinger's 25-yard kick is good and the Bears regain the lead.
Bears 23, Saints 21
The Saints start at the 27 as McAllister is stopped on first down. ... McAllister catches a short pass and is caught from behind by Keith Traylor. Yes, Keith Traylor. ... The Saints punt and Johnson manages 2 yards on the return. ... Thomas runs twice and is caught both times by Grady Jackson, the Saints' version of Traylor. ... A dump to Pritchett on third down and the Bears convert. Under 5 minutes left and the Bears are grinding but they need first downs. Thomas runs for a couple and goes over 100 yards for the first time this season. ... Thomas runs on second and is 2 yards short. Another huge third down. ... Oh, no. There's the dreaded wide-receiver screen and Booker is dragged down short of the first down and out of bounds. The clock stops. ... Maynard shanks the punt and the Saints take over in decent shape, trailing by two.
With just over 3 minutes remaining, the Bears' defense needs a big stop. ... Brooks throws to Horn to the 31 for a gain of 9 and McAllister cuts the corner for the first down and is knocked out of bounds by Green at the 46. ... Nine yards to Pathon and the Saints are moving quickly. ... A holding penalty slows things down and the Saints face second and 11. ... Brooks finds a hole, takes off and is finally brought down by a diving Urlacher. A gain of 14 and a first down. Two minute warning stops everything. ...First and 10 from the Bears' 41 and Brooks hits Horn and he's close to another first down. ... It was a first down. Urlacher stuffs McAllister but the Saints are on the Bears' 30. The only thing that can stop the Saints now is a turnover, a missed field goal or a Mike Brown miracle. ... Not this week. Brooks goes to Stallworth, Stallworth breaks an Austin tackle and runs into the end zone. Did a little taunting on Holdman at the end there, too. ... Brooks runs the two-point conversion in and the Bears trail by 6 with 1:11 on the clock.
Saints 29, Bears 23
Rahib Abdullah takes this kick and nearly breaks something before being tackled at the 31. ... A pass to Thomas picks up a few and then Miller goes long to Dez White who leaps between two defenders and drops it. The ball was underthrown, though. ... Miller throws short to tight end Dustin Lyman and he can't get out of bounds. The Bears use their final timeout. Lyman has one career catch and the Bears throw to him here. ... Miller hits White over the middle for a big gain to the 30 but the clock is running. The offense sprints down the field and Miller spikes the ball to stop the clock. Fourteen seconds left. Oh, man, there's a chance. ... Well, not this week, people. Miller throws into a crowd in the end zone and is picked off by Sammy Knight. The magic runs out.
Final: Saints 29, Bears 23