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The killer about the Bears' 30-13 loss to the Saints on Sunday was the fact that the game was there for the contesting about five minutes into the third quarter. The Bear defense had risen up to start the second half and recorded a pair of three-and-outs. The offense was a few first downs away from a field goal to tie (at 16) if not a touchdown to take the lead.
But then a Saints blitzer, linebacker Turk McBride, slipped around tight end Kellen Davis, blind-sided Jay Cutler and forced a fumble that New Orleans recovered. A minute or two later the home team scored a touchdown to take a 23-13 lead and the Bears were in trouble.
Here was yet another game in which one critical turnover at one critical time was decisive.
It was very similar to the opener against the Falcons when a diving interception by Brian Urlacher set up a Bear touchdown and a lead the team would not relinquish. Atlanta couldn't muster the sort of turnover that might have turned that one back around; the Bears couldn't do the same in Week 2.
That being said, I've got to take it easy on the Kool-Aid the next time the Bears start the season with an exciting win over a team expected to make the playoffs.
After one week of amnesia, fans were reminded on Sunday of why they were concerned (again) about the offensive line and wide receiver position groups.
And it was not a shocker that a major screw-up by the inexperienced Bear secondary put the Saints in front to stay in the first half. On a third-and-12 (third-and-12!), second-year safety Major Wright allowed Devery Henderson to slip past him in the deep middle and Drew Brees threw a beautiful bomb that his receiver hauled in without breaking stride in the slightest on his way to a 79-yard touchdown.
And in the second half, well, wouldn't you think Jerry Angelo would get tired of it? Wouldn't you think the Bears general manager would decide to do everything in his power to ensure he doesn't have to watch yet another overmatched left tackle (second-year man J'Marcus Webb this time around) allow the sorts of hits that threaten the quarterback's continued good health?
Apparently not, given that the Bears declined to sign an experienced free-agent tackle in free agency before the season. The Bears made a run at Steelers tackle Willie Colon, but when he decided to re-sign with Pittsburgh, Angelo decided to go with what he had despite several other decent candidates still being on the market.
Oh, and the receivers aren't good enough, again. Yes Roy Williams would have helped a little had he not been sidelined by a groin pull, but it isn't just Bears fans that believe the team is undermanned at the position. Maybe analyst Troy Aikman going on and on about Devin Hester not being a number one receiver will finally cause the team to deploy him more in the slot, where he would be in his element. (Aikman doesn't think Williams is a number one either.)
Of course, if Hester doesn't stop fumbling (two in two games although the Bears haven't lost either of them), it won't matter where he lines up.
How irritating was the fact that Sean Payton made one of the worst calls of the day with the Saints going for a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter and then didn't pay for it?
He had his team run a goofy fake with former Missouri star quarterback Chase Daniel hopping up from his spot as the holder and lining up in shotgun formation. Not surprisingly, the gimmick play backfired when one of the Saints false-started.
So then Saints kicker John Kasay had to take aim from 53 yards. If there was justice in the word he would have missed but instead he put it right through.
One couldn't help but notice the national junk food commercials featuring Reggie Bush during the Bear telecast. Reggie Bush? Still? Really? You know they took his Heisman Trophy away don't you, Pizza Hut? Because his activities - taking money from a street agent and the like - were the centerpiece of a big scandal at USC?
And he's been a big, honkin' bust since he was drafted into the pros. He played a small role for the Saints Super Bowl champions but after the next season New Orleans unceremoniously dumped him.
On Sunday Aikman couldn't have been more clear if he'd come out and said it: The Saints are so much better off with Darren Sproles in the role of change-of-pace back/returner extraordinaire than they were with Bush. But there was Bush starring for Pizza Hut. Very, very strange.
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