Chicago – The New Orleans Saints needed everyone to chip in Sunday against the Bears at Soldier Field. They had so many good performances sprinkled throughout their 26-23, overtime victory, that it's hard to narrow down which players for the Saints (5-2) stood out most in their fourth consecutive victory.
So rather than one per unit, there's legitimate reason to share the accolades from their second overtime win in their last three games.
OFFENSE: Drew Brees turned in one of his finest performances, and that's saying a lot. Brees completed 31 of 41 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception. And he did that without three of his top four receivers – Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Marquez Callaway. Nothing seems to rattle the man, and that partly was attributable Sunday to having running back Alvin Kamara available. Kamara might be operating at peak efficiency, and that's saying a mouthful. Against the Bears, Kamara, who has been as valuable to his team as any player in the league, carried 12 times for a team-high 67 yards, and added game highs in receptions (nine) and receiving yards (96). If the Saints have those two on the field offensively, they can create enough offense around them to survive, as they did against the Bears.
DEFENSE: There's been a lot of time spent this season chronicling shortcomings in the secondary, and the unit wasn't perfect Sunday, allowing completions of 50 and 24 yards on the same touchdown drive. But New Orleans didn't allow much more than that on the back end, and cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Malcolm Jenkins had a lot to do with that. Lattimore had an interception and a pass defensed (he dropped another pick, but it was on fourth down so no harm), and eight tackles. Jenkins matched the eight tackles, and a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and two passes defensed. They got some help up front, of course – of the five sacks, four came from defensive linemen. But Lattimore and Jenkins helped hold Chicago to 233 passing yards, and that's no small feat for a secondary that has had its share of issues this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Wil Lutz missed a 27-yard field goal and it was one of the most surprising things we've seen this season. We've just become accustomed to his perfection. And the Pro Bowler rebounded with perfection; he kicked three field goals after the miss, including the game-winning 35-yarder in overtime. His bounce-back always is impressive, but his performance was no more impressive than All-Pro returner Deonte Harris. Harris returned three kickoffs for 70 yards, and three punts for 67 yards. The punt returns tilted field position in New Orleans' favor, which is exactly what you like to see from a punt returner.