Spot On: Saints and Bears Have Given Us Moments
Russell S. Baxter
Spot On: Saints and Bears Have Given Us Moments
By Brandon Fazzolari
Special to Pro Football Guru
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
When the Chicago Bears host the New Orleans Saints in the featured late afternoon game this Sunday, it will be the 31st time the teams have squared off since the Saints joined the NFL in 1967. New Orleans has won four straight to tie the series at 15 wins apiece (including playoffs). Let’s take a look back at the five most significant matchups between these two storied franchises.
5. Saints 34, Bears 31 (OT) (1983)
In one of the wildest games of 1983, Bum Phillips’ Saints turned the ball over six times and allowed 493 yards of offense. Miraculously, they managed to win thanks to eight sacks and three interceptions of their own including a pick-six by fan favorite Johnnie Poe. Even though the Saints were victorious in this game quarterbacked by the legendary Ken Stabler, the star of the show was unquestionably Walter Payton. Payton rushed for 161 yards and one score and passed for 77 yards and two touchdowns, both to sprinter Willie Gault.
Hoby Brenner and Hokie Gajan each scored for New Orleans and Russell Erxleben kicked the winning field goal in the extra session. Yes, those were all real people.
4. Bears 27, Saints 24 (OT) (2008)
In a critical Thursday night match-up between a pair of 7-6 ball clubs, the Saints were let down by their special teams. The Bears employed perhaps the greatest kick returner in NFL history in Devin Hester. Yet it was Danieal Manning who returned the opening kickoff for a score. New Orleans’ inconsistent defense fared well on this frigid evening, but Drew Brees was not his usual brilliant self and Chicago took advantage. They got rushing touchdowns from Kyle Orton and Matt Forte along with game-tying and game-winning field goals off the foot of Robbie Gould as they prevailed in the must-win.
Unfortunately for Chicago, they collapsed in their season finale against the Houston Texans and missed the postseason. The Saints, on the other hand, came back in 2009 with a vengeance and won Super Bowl XLIV over the Indianapolis Colts.
3. Bears 16, Saints 6 (1990)
In their 24th season, the Saints qualified for the postseason for just the second time with an unimpressive 8-8 mark. Their reward would be a trip to Soldier Field to take on Mike Ditka’s Bears. The Saints struggled mightily on offense gaining just 193 yards while their quarterbacks, Steve Walsh and John Fourcade completed only 11 passes.
New Orleans stayed in this old-school battle due to some tough red zone defense. On three occasions, they held Chicago to Kevin Butler chip shots. The last of those, however, put the game on ice. The Bears, led by their gritty defense, prevailed 16-6. They were crushed the following week by Jeff Hostetler and the eventual Super Bowl XXV champion New York Giants by a score of 31-3.
2. Bears 20, Saints 7 (1984)
This game is on this list for one reason: On this gloomy autumn day, Walter Payton broke Jim Brown’s coveted rushing record. After opening the season with a three-game winning streak, the Bears found themselves in the midst of a two-game slide. Unlike the previous game, when Payton ran loose for 130 yards in the first half, New Orleans managed to bottle him up for the most part early in this one.
Going into the second half, Walter only needed three yards to claim the record. The Bears returned to the field with 50,000 fans chanting, “Walter! Walter!” Toss 28 Weak. A pitchout for Payton, one that he had run too many times to count, was the play! Fullback Matt Suhey, who ran behind left guard Mark Bortz, blocked in front of Payton. The Saints’ defenders standing in the way got creamed as Payton broke the record on a six-yard carry.
By game’s end, Payton had amassed 32 carries and 154 yards and also collected Brown’s then-record of 100-yard rushing games with the 59th of his career. And the Bears won, 20-7.
1. Bears 39, Saints 14 (2006)
The Saints were in the midst of a magical 2006. This was the year after Hurricane Katrina and the debut campaign of head coach Sean Payton. However, Lovie Smith and his Bears were not interested in the “Hollywood ending” as they took control in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game.
Down 16-0 and throttled for 28 minutes, the Saints woke up late in the first half on a 29-yard, third-down completion to Marques Colston, who was having a miserable time of it with his footing and his pass catching. Drew Brees threw a pair of sideline darts and Colston beat Peanut Tillman for a 13-yard touchdown with 46 seconds remaining in the half. Subsequently, it took New Orleans only 2:40 into the third quarter to make it 16-14 on Reggie Bush’s spectacular 88-yard touchdown reception on a wide open wheel route. But that was the last highlight for the Saints.
It was time for Chicago’s greatest moment since their Super Bowl XX triumph. Bernard Berrian, Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones each scored rushing touchdowns as the Bears exploded for the victory. Sadly for Bears fans, their season ended with a loss in the monsoon of Super Bowl XLI against Tony Dungy’s Indianapolis Colts.
Brandon Fazzolari (@spot_bills) is a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan and a Vegas sports reporter for Vegas the Network.