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Monday, September 19, 2011

Bear-ing Down

The Super Bowl champions from two years ago, the New Orleans Saints, started the season 0-1 after a narrow loss to last year’s Super Bowl winning Green Bay Packers. A 0-2 hole to start a season is always a bad omen in the NFL, with only 12% of teams, dropping their first two games, reaching the playoffs. On Sunday, the Saints hosted last year’s NFC runner-ups, the Chicago Bears. The Saints quickly reminded their fans, the Bears, and the rest of the league, that they are among the elite teams in the NFL.


Bears quarterback Jay Cutler may not be the most likable player in the NFL. If you Google “Jay Cutler j,” the second auto completed option is the word “jerk”. However, football isn’t about making friends. It is about winning games. After yesterday, I cannot put stock into arguments that question Cutler’s toughness, as many did after Cutler hurt his knee in last year’s NFC Championship Game.

Cutler was sacked six times and hurried constantly by the Saints pass rush. Most of the time, Cutler was able to dodge danger and find a receiver, often running back Matt Forte. The Bears were able to move the chains against the Saints, but, too often, the furious Saints pass rush and the Bears Swiss-cheese offensive line would cause Bears drives to end with a special teams play.

Chicago Bears Jay Cutler
Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas


The Bears defense was formidable, but to stop Saints quarterback Drew Brees, it takes more than “formidable”. The Bears did, in fact, force the Saints to settle for three field goals. But, in the second half, the Saints running game was able to work in concert with the passing game. Brees loosened up the Bears defense after halftime, throwing touchdown passes to wide receiver Robert Meachem and running back Darren Sproles to slam the door on Chicago.

Darren Sproles delivered the knockout blow with this touchdown reception. Replay showed that Sproles stepped out of bounds before the ball crossed the plane of the goal line. By this time, it made very little difference. 2


After all four teams in the NFC South dropped their Week 1 games, the Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all won in Week 2. The Carolina Panthers battled the Packers until the Pack was able to over take the improving Panthers, late in the game. Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton, however, threw for over 400 yards for the second week in a row. Only two weeks into his NFL career, Newton is bound to IMPROVE…IMPROVE over his spectacular individual start.

The NFC is going to be a competitive division. This made the Saints win over the Bears critical, even though the season is just underway. After facing both participants from last year’s NFC title game and coming up just one yard short, against the Packers, from possibly being 2-0, the Saints have staked their position as the team to go through to win the South division.

Don't expect this scene in the Superdome when the Falcons, Bucs, or Panthers are in town. 3

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