You know the back story. Sean Payton attended high school at Naperville Central in Naperville, IL. He played at Eastern Illinois. He once donned the Bears uniform as a replacement game player quarterback under Mike Ditka in 1987.
Ditka would become head coach of the Saints and failed. Payton would become head coach of the Saints and succeed. Payton was 0-3 at Soldier Field. Bears fans have been hostile hosts to Saints fans in previous years.
Drew Brees was 0-4 at Soldier Field, including 0-3 as a member of the Saints. He is now 1-4 and 1-3, respectively.
The Saints played the kind of game you must play to win on the road in the NFL against a good team. They controlled the football and time of possession, scored every time they got into the red zone and did not turn the football over. They managed the game and the clock well.
Winning is not about gaudy statistics. It is about efficiency. The Saints were very efficient throughout, dominating time of possession by keeping the ball for 36 minutes.
New Orleans showed its toughness and resiliency, winning off of a short week following a Monday night game.
Here are my Quick Takes on the 26-18 win for the Saints at Chicago
**The Saints finally got a break playing in Chicago. The skies were sunny, there was no rain and the wind was not a factor.
**The Bears led the NFL with 14 takeaways coming into the game. They got none against the Saints and now have at least one takeaway in 36 of their last 40 games.
**Jahri Evans got beat for a sack by Nate Collins to kill the first drive for the Saints. Collins later left the game with what appeared to be a knee injury.
**Brees was 5-for-5 on the opening drive for 30 yards.
**Pierre Thomas would have scored on third-and-goal but he slipped on the thick, loose turf. Earlier, Darren Sproles slipped, costing him a first down. Marques Colston later slipped, perhaps costing the Saints another first down. The Saints cannot seem to figure out what cleats to wear at Soldier Field.
**Thomas Morstead blasted three straight touchbacks to start the game, effectively taking Devin Hester out of the game.
**The Bears first five possessions netted one turnover, two first downs and four punts. The Saints had three sacks and forced a turnover in the first half, holding the Bears to just seven points.
**Chicago chose to play coverage down the field and forced Brees to take check-downs for much of the first half. It worked well. Of course, Brees solved it, thanks to Jimmy Graham.
**The Bears scored on a natural pick play with bodies colliding with bodies, resulting in an easy score for Alshon Jeffrey.
**434 yards for the Bears translated into just 18 points. Bend but don't break. Give up 18 and you win, simple as that. Great job by Rob Ryan defense again.
**Brees made a great deep throw to Robert Meachem on the final play prior to the two minute warning. The ball went through Meachem's hands though he was grabbed on the play, with no call by the official on the spot. It was a tough near miss for the Saints.
**Make it four straight 100 yard receiving games for Jimmy Graham, tying an NFL record for tight ends.
**Nick Toon made an excellent catch, fully outstretched, high-pointing the football on a 35-yard completion from Brees in the first half.
**Perfect execution on the screen pass touchdown from Brees to Pierre Thomas right before halftime. Great block by Ben Grubbs.
**Former Rummel and LSU star Craig Steltz made the tackle on Darren Sproles on the second half kickoff.
**Lance Briggs can still play. He was outstanding all afternoon for Chicago, other than a critical offside penalty.
**The maturation and progression of Charles Brown continues. The first-year starter did not allow Julius Pepper to get to Brees.
**After a slow start on offense, the Saints scored on three consecutive series to increase the lead to 23-7.
**The Saints shortened the game with a 13 play, 60-yard drive, taking 6:57 off the clock to start the second half, increasing the lead with a Garrett Hartley field goal to make it 23-7.
**Chicago responded with a nine play, 71 yard drive but the Saints defense got a big stop, holding them to a field goal to maintain a 13 point lead.
**Darren Sproles and Jed Collins are the best short yardage runners for the Saints. They are the ones who covert third-and-short runs.
**Morstead pinned the Bears deep with a great punt at the end of the third quarter to the two-yard line but the Bears got out of the hole.
**Jeffrey had a monster game with 10 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown. He is more than a good compliment to Brandon Marshall, who was not at 100 percent.
**The streak of nine consecutive 300 yard passing games for Drew Brees ended, tying his own NFL record. Still, the guy was 29-of-35 for 288 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Had Kenny Stills not had a bad drop in the fourth quarter, the record would have been eclipsed and counting. Lack of concentration by the rookie.
**The other major streak of note still belongs to Brees. Tom Brady had his streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass end in a 13-6 loss at Cincinnati. Brees still holds the all-time league record at 54 games. Of course, Brees and Brady collide next week at New England.
**Garrett Hartley tied his career high with four field goals against the Bears. He was rock solid in a tough stadium to kick in.
**Kenny Vaccaro made a bad, rookie mistake in letting Jeffrey get behind him on a 58-yard completion to the New Orleans two-yard line. No excuse in that situation. Former Slidell High and Tulane star Matt Forte walked into the end zone on the two-point conversion.
**Ben Watson recovered the onside kick attempt to seal the deal. Clean recovery allowed no room for a scrum.
The Saints are 5-0 and are an improving, very good football team. They are in control of their division and are staring down at other NFC competitors as the only unbeaten in the conference following Seattle's loss at Indianapolis. This is starting to shape up as a special season.
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