The New Orleans Saints (5-8) will return to the road following Sunday's 41-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, to face the Chicago Bears, who also enter the game at 5-8, Monday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN (WDSU-6 locally).
The Saints and the Bears have met 26 times in the regular season, with the series knotted at 13-13. New Orleans will be looking for their second consecutive win against the Bears. Since 2002, six of the seven games between the two clubs have been decided by eight points or less, including the Saints' 26-18 victory at Soldier Field on Oct. 6, 2013.
Carolina got the ball first on Sunday, as QB Cam Newton led the Panthers down the field on a seven-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass to WR Kelvin Benjamin. After New Orleans got the ball, DT Colin Cole recovered a ball fumbled by RB Mark Ingram to set up a 37-yard field goal by K Graham Gano.
On the next play from scrimmage by New Orleans, Panthers CB Bene Benwikere picked off a pass by QB Drew Brees that set up a two-yard rushing touchdown by QB Cam Newton. Following a New Orleans field goal at the start of the second quarter, a second field goal attempt was missed and a Newton 16-yard TD pass to TE Greg Olsen gave the Panthers a 24-3 halftime lead.
Offensively, QB Drew Brees completed 29-of-49 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown. Brees went over 55,00 career yards passing.
Brees' top targets were WRs Marques Colston and Nick Toon. Colston had five receptions for 72 yards to increase his career receptions total to 653, 51st in NFL record books. The ninth-year wideout needs nine catches to enter the top 50 in NFL record books. Toon has continued his recent development, grabbing four passes for 45 yards. TE Benjamin Watson posted a touchdown reception in his second consecutive contest.
Defensively, ILB Curtis Lofton filled up the stat sheet and the defensive team captain will play an important role in along with Brees on the offensive side of the ball in helping New Orleans rebound from its most disappointing performance of the season. Lofton posted 17 tackles (13 solo) and one forced fumble, increasing his season-leading total to 160 In the ironman's 109th consecutive game played.
On special teams, WR Jalen Saunders provided a spark, returning punts for 32 and 31 yards respectively. In the NFC South this week: In addition to the New Orleans-Chicago matchup on Monday Night Football, the Atlanta Falcons will host the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.