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Latavius Murray leads punishing second-half run game for New Orleans Saints against Bears

Saints 36- Bears 25 (W) 6-1

2019 New Orleans Saints
All Images Copyright Michael C. Hebert
Saints 36- Bears 25 (W) 6-1 2019 New Orleans Saints All Images Copyright Michael C. Hebert

Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears is what Latavius Murray was built for.

"I just think with my size and my style of play, those are the kinds of games that a big back like myself should be able to make an impact," he said.

And the 36-25 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field had his fingerprints all over it.

Murray (6 feet 3, 230 pounds) and the Saints' offensive line hammered Chicago's defense in the second half, as New Orleans (6-1) won its fifth straight game and remained in first place in the NFC South Division.

There was no actual waving of a white flag. But in the second half, especially, it was clear which team controlled the imposition of will, and which team was forced to accept it.

The Saints ran 12 times for 33 yards in the first half against the Bears, with Murray accounting for nine carries and 30 yards. In the second half – when the Saints hogged possession for 19:35 of the 30-minute half – the team had 23 carries for 118 yards, and Murray accounted for 18 carries, 89 yards and both of New Orleans' rushing touchdowns.

"I definitely think when you're establishing a new line of scrimmage, and you're dominating up front, just like any other position on the field, you continue to gain confidence and continue to allow that to build over the course of the game," Murray said. "And it just wears on defenses."

For the second straight week, the Saints muscled around their opponent in the run game in the second half. They moved Jacksonville for 93 yards on 18 carries in the second half of a 13-6 victory, with Murray finishing with eight carries for 44 yards, plus three catches for 35.

But with Alvin Kamara missing Sunday's game due to ankle and knee injuries, Murray responded to the increased workload with, easily, his best performance of the season. He had another touchdown run nullified due to a holding penalty.

"It was disappointing, but I know it's a part of the game," Murray said. "Penalties happen, that's just a part of the game so I don't ever take any offense to something getting called back.

"You're upset and you don't want to have those kinds of mistakes, but I've been on the side of it when I've made mistakes myself. It's a part of the game. You just make sure you keep it going and do whatever you can the next drive, the next play, to go ahead and put that thing in.

New Orleans didn't punch in that opportunity for a touchdown; the drive eventually resulted in a 30-yard field goal by Wil Lutz. But the body blows to the Bears' defense continued.

On the Saints' final touchdown drive – a seven-play, 55-yarder to give them a 36-10 lead with 4:33 left – Murray had carries for 5, 1, 2, 3, 6 and 4 yards, the last for a touchdown in which he bullied through a couple of defenders off left guard.

"He obviously is a big back," Saints linebacker A.J. Klein said. "A big back, downhill runner, but I think people take him for granted. I think because he's kind of an upright runner, people think he would be an easy tackle, which is not the case at all.

"Latavius has got great balance, can make people miss when he needs to and he gets yards after contact. And yesterday, I was standing on the sideline (saying), 'Keep handing the ball to him,' because he was getting four or five yards a pop, every carry it seemed like.

"When you have a guy that's that big and physical, and especially with our offensive line getting push and the movement that they did, and Zach Line at fullback too – they were coming downhill and moving that defensive line – I'm all for Latavius and his running style. He's a downhill runner and he's a physical runner."

And while he's built for all games and occasions, Sunday's game especially seemed to be in his sweet spot, as he continues to add production to New Orleans' offense.

"I think the sky is the limit, to be honest, still," he said. "But it definitely feels good to contribute in a big way, in a big game on the road. Now, don't get me wrong – I want to contribute, I want to go out there and do my part. But it won't define anything that I do here or anything before.

"I know what I can bring and I know me and what it's about for me, and that's about winning championships, and ultimately the big one. That's why I'm here, that's why I chose to come here – nothing about the numbers or the statistics or the reps and the plays. I want to contribute. But I came to this team with one goal in mind, and so I'm going to do whatever I need to do to help us compete for that."

Saints 36- Bears 25 (W) 6-1

2019 New Orleans Saints
All Images Copyright Michael C. Hebert

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