Saints ensure banged-up Bears really feel the pain
By Mark Potash firstname.lastname@example.org September 18, 2011 11:14PM
NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 18: Gabe Carimi #72 of the Chicago Bears is helped off the field at the Louisiana Superdome on September 18, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Bears 30-13.(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\125592088.jpg
Updated: November 10, 2011 12:43PM
NEW ORLEANS — So much for depth. Wherever the Bears were hurting Sunday, the New Orleans Saints made it hurt a little bit more.
The Bears lost wide receiver Earl Bennett (chest), offensive tackle Gabe Carimi (leg) and safety Major Wright to injuries in Sunday’s 30-13 loss to the Saints at the Superdome. And the Saints pounced on every weakness.
Carimi’s injury looked the most ominous as the first-round pick limped off the field with help from team personnel after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury late in the first half.
Veteran Frank Omiyale replaced Carimi but struggled against a fierce Saints pass rush that overwhelmed the Bears’ in the fourth quarter, when the Saints had five of their six sacks.
Without Bennett, Jay Cutler’s main targets were running back Matt Forte (10 receptions, 117 yards) and rookie wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher (3-33). Cutler was 19-for-45 — the second-lowest completion percentage (42.2) of his six-year NFL career — for 244 yards.
Wright suffered a head injury and looked like he was out cold after hitting tight end Jimmy Graham. He walked off the field but did not return.
The Bears already were without starting strong safety Chris Harris (hamstring). Brandon Meriweather started at Wright’s free safety spot, and Wright moved to strong safety against the Saints.
But with Meriweather getting his ankle taped in the second quarter, the Bears had rookie Chris Conte and Wright, a second-year player, at safety. That’s when Drew Brees threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Devery Henderson, who beat Wright on the play.
Beats a stick in the eye
Cutler couldn’t avoid the attack. He was slow getting up after one hit in the first half and said he was kicked in the throat in the third quarter, which affected his voice.
‘‘It was worse in the third and fourth quarter,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘I guess [teammates] couldn’t hear the snap count and the plays coming out.’’
Forte was almost all the Bears had on offense. The former Tulane star had 20 touches, including 10 carries for 49 yards, 42 of which came on a first-quarter run that led to Cutler’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Sanzenbacher.
‘‘On most of the passes I caught, I wasn’t the primary receiver,’’ Forte said. ‘‘But I did make the best of what was in front of me after catching the ball. Jay found me a lot for dump-off passes, and that resulted in a lot of opportunities for me.’’
No other Bears wide receiver caught more than three passes.
‘‘That tells me he played a lot better than everybody else,’’ Bears coach Lovie Smith said. ‘‘Can’t give you any magical answers today. I can’t tell you why. We would have changed a lot of that out there if we had known the reason why.’’
With the Bears trailing 16-13 in the third quarter, Saints defensive end Turk McBride had arguably the play of the game when he beat tight end Kellen Davis to sack Cutler with a blind-side hit and force a fumble that Jonathan Vilma recovered at the Bears’ 29. It led to Brees’ touchdown pass to Robert Meachem that gave the Saints a 23-13 lead.
Last year with the Lions, McBride had two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and four quarterback hits in two games against the Bears.
Brees burned the Bears with three touchdown passes, all on third down. The 79-yard pass to Henderson came on third-and-12.
‘‘Just a great call,’’ Henderson said. ‘‘We saw something in their defense, we figured how to get inbetween those safeties and get up the middle of the field.’’