It was a short stay for the Bears in the playoffs.
The No. 7-seeded Bears fell to the No. 2-seeded New Orleans Saints, 21-9, in a Wild Card round playoff game Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Bears were making their first playoff appearance since 2018 and just their second playoff appearance in the past decade.
Catch up on what you missed here:
Graham adds late touchdown; Saints win, 21-9
Bears tight end Jimmy Graham scored a late touchdown on the final play of the game, but the Saints ended the Bears’ season with a 21-9 victory in Sunday’s Wild Card round playoff game.
The Saints move on to face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next weekend.
Kamara extends the lead
Saints running back Alvin Kamara punched in a 3-yard touchdown to extend the Saints’ lead to 21-3. Drew Brees and the Saints drove 64 yards on 15 plays, eating up 8:51 on the clock to score what might have been a knockout blow.
The Bears were getting the ball back with 8:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Latavius Murray barrels into end zone
The Saints were prepared to go for it on fourth down in the red zone when Bears safety Eddie Jackson jumped offsides, giving the Saints a first down.
Saints running back Latavius Murray turned it into a touchdown on a six-yard pass from quarterback Drew Brees a few plays later. The Saints extended their lead to 14-3 in the third quarter.
Bears WR Anthony Miller gets ejected
Bears receiver Anthony Miller was ejected from the game for shoving Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty came after a third-and-15 play in the third quarter.
Gardner-Johnson is the same Saints safety who goaded Bears receiver Javon Wims into punching him the last time these two teams played on Nov. 1. Wims was ejected from the Nov. 1 game and served a two-game suspension. Miller’s ejection makes the Bears – already playing without Darnell Mooney – thin at receiver.
Saint lead at halftime, 7-3
The Bears received a punt deep in their own territory with 1:49 remaining in the second quarter and elected to run the ball three times, rather than take a shot down field. They went three-and-out and punted to end the half. The Bears will receive the second-half kickoff.
It was a slow first half, offensively, for both teams. The Saints took a 7-3 lead into the halftime break. The Saints out-gained the Bears, 174 yards to 103. Bears running back David Montgomery has 31 rushing yards on 10 carries, while quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 68 yards on 7-for-12 passing.
Saints receiver Deonte Harris had a solid first half with five catches for 68 yards. Running back Alvin Kamara had 39 rushing yards on eight carries.
Cairo Santos gets the Bears on the scoreboard
Bears defensive tackle John Jenkins recovered a fumble from the Saints’ Taysom Hill, thanks to some pressure from Bears safety Tashaun Gipson. The play set up the Bears with great field position at the New Orleans 24-yard line.
The Bears offense picked up one first down, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against tight end Cole Kmet cost them 15 yards. Kicker Cairo Santos made a 36-yard field goal for the Bears’ first score of the game.
New Orleans held a 7-3 lead with 8:06 to play in the second quarter.
Javon Wims drops potential touchdown pass
Bears receiver Javon Wims dropped what would’ve been a sure touchdown in the end zone late in the first quarter. The Bears lined up in the wildcat formation, with quarterback Mitch Trubisky out wide at receiver. At the snap, Trubisky ran back toward the backfield, caught a pitch and unloaded a deep ball for Wims.
Wims had the Saints’ last defender beat, but Trubisky’s pass fell right through his hands in the end zone. The trick play worked to perfection until the last possible moment.
The Bears drive ended a few plays later when they failed to convert on fourth-and-4.
Michael Thomas puts the Saints ahead early
Saints receiver Michael Thomas scored his first touchdown since Dec. 22, 2019. The Saints top receiver has spent much of the 2020 season injured, and hadn’t found the end zone at all during the seven regular season games he played.
Drew Brees connected with Thomas for an 11-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. The score put the Saints ahead, 7-0. Thomas had been out with an ankle injury since Dec. 13.
Linebacker Manti Te’o starts for Roquan Smith
While inside linebacker Josh Woods filled in for injured Roquan Smith last week against the Packers, it was Manti Te’o who started Sunday’s game at inside linebacker next to Danny Trevathan.
Te’o has been on the Bears’ practice squad since late October. He has not played in an NFL game since 2019, when he was a member of the New Orleans Saints. He recorded two tackles during the Sunday’s opening possession.
Te’o is wearing No. 57 for the Bears.
Darnell Mooney and Roquan Smith were among the Bears listed as inactive for Sunday’s game an hour and a half before kickoff. That was no surprise, given that the team had already ruled them out.
But cornerback Jaylon Johnson is also inactive. Read the full inactive report here.
The Bears seemed to be holding out hope that Johnson might play. The rookie injured his shoulder Dec. 13 against Houston and hasn’t played in a game since. He did, however, return to practice in a limited capacity this week for the first time.
Cornerback Buster Skrine (concussion) was also among Sunday’s inactives. Skrine hasn’t played since Dec. 6.
As expected, the Saints will have running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Michael Thomas available on Sunday. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson, the Saints’ leader in sacks with 13.5, is inactive Sunday due to a neck injury.
How they made it here
The Bears needed some help from the Los Angeles Rams last week to reach the postseason. The Bears lost to the Packers, 35-16, in Week 17, dropping them to 8-8 on the season. But the Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals that same afternoon, giving the Bears the final Wild Card spot in the NFC. The Bears benefitted from an expanded postseason, which features seven teams in each conference for the first time.
Bears coach Matt Nagy wasn’t thrilled with Sunday’s outcome against Green Bay – saying “it’s OK to feel like crap” after the loss – but a playoff spot is a playoff spot.
Meanwhile, the Saints won the NFC South division with a 12-4 record, finishing one game ahead of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In previous years, with only six teams in the postseason in each conference, the Saints would’ve earned a bye into the Divisional round as the No. 2 seed. Instead, they will have to win a Wild Card round game to advance.
The Bears and Saints will square off in the playoffs for the first time since meeting in the NFC Championship Game in January 2007.
The injury report
The Bears will be without inside linebacker Roquan Smith and receiver Darnell Mooney. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson is listed as questionable entering Sunday.
Johnson was a limited participant in practice all week, but that’s actually a positive sign. Johnson hadn’t played or practiced since injuring his shoulder on Dec. 13 against the Houston Texans.
Smith injured his elbow in the first quarter last week against the Green Bay Packers, while Mooney injured his ankle in the fourth quarter. Neither player practiced at all this week. They were both officially ruled out by the team Saturday afternoon. In a corresponding move, the Bears added defensive back Marqui Christian and linebacker Manti Te’o to the 53-man roster.
In New Orleans, defensive end Trey Hendrickson – the Saints’ leading pass rusher with 13.5 sacks – has already been ruled out with a neck injury. Offensive lineman Nick Easton (concussion) is also out Sunday.
The Saints activated running back Alvin Kamara after a stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Per league protocols, Kamara was not allowed to practice with the team at all this week. The Saints also activated receivers Michael Thomas and Deonte Harris from injured reserve. Thomas hasn’t played since Dec. 13.
What to read before kickoff
Wild Card staff predictions: Bears vs. Saints
Bears vs. Saints preview: 5 things to watch in the Wild Card playoff game
Three things to know about the Bears’ Wild Card playoff opponent, the New Orleans Saints
What you missed this week
Bear Down, Nerd Up: Roquan Smith’s season was the best by a Bears inside linebacker in a decade
‘No doubt’ Anthony Miller can step up if Darnell Mooney is out vs. Saints
Bears will see C.J. Gardner-Johnson for 1st time since Javon Wims punched him
Wild Card power rankings: The Chiefs are still the champs, but the Bills are a legitimate threat
Cordarrelle Patterson earns first-team All-Pro honors
Bears WR Darnell Mooney just played his best game ... then he hurt his ankle