The New Orleans Saints did what they had to do to secure their fifth straight win on Sunday holding off the Chicago Bears 20 to 12 to remain atop the NFC South Division standings with a 5-2 record.
It wasn't pretty, but beauty doesn't count under the win column.
Quarterback Drew Brees completed 23-of-28 pass attempts for 299 yards and no touchdowns. He surpassed 6,000 career completions to join Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in that elite category.
Brees said, "It really wasn't on the radar. You play long enough, hopefully you complete more then you incomplete."
Rookie running back Alvin Kamara propelled to New Orleans in front 7-0, a lead they would not relinquish.
Mark Ingram..who fumbled twice, had 75 yards rushing and tallied a touchdown on a one yard leap. Saints led 14-3.
In the third quarter it looked as Chicago had trimmed the Saints lead when Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky tossed a 25-yard strike to tight end Zach Miller. But he suffered a gruesome left leg injury..and after a review, the catch was over ruled. No touchdown.
After the Bears closed the gap 17 to 12 in the fourth quarter with a touchdown, Will Lutz kicked a 49-yard field goal that propelled the Saints to an 8-point lead.
Following the Saints second fourth quarter turnover, Chicago was handed a golden opportunity to force overtime if they could bag touchdown and two-point conversion. Rookie defensive back Marshon Lattimore said...no way! He did his talking with a game clinching interception. The defensive effort by the Saints was exceptional.
Coach Sean Payton said, "We found a way to make it interesting. We're going to have to clean up some of those mistakes and some of the things that will hurt us when we play a better team."
Payton admits his younger players have gained experience and it's paying off under the win column.
"The two game road trip at Carolina and in London, those were good games for us and we've been able to build on those, "stated Payton. "We've got a lot of young guys playing and you can see it right in front of your eyes the growth and confidence. Hopefully, we can continue that."
Brees also surpassed 68,000 career passing yards. He's only sitting behind Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
Brees said, "We were able to make big plays in the passing game. Felt like we ran the ball really effectively. At the end of the day it was closer then it need to be with the two turnovers in the fourth quarter that otherwise would have resulted in points and widen the gap a little bit."
The victory gave New Orleans a 5-2 record, holding a half-game lead over Carolina (5-3) in the NFC South Division standings. Atlanta is 4-3 and Tampa Bay brings up the rear with 2 wins and 5 losses.
The Saints entertain Tampa Bay next Sunday at high noon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
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