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Zatarain's game recap - New Orleans Saints defeat Chicago Bears 21-9, advance to divisional round to host Tampa Bay

Saints pull away in second half for Wild Card win


It will be New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, part III.

With their 21-9 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Saints moved on to the divisional round of the 2020 NFL playoffs and will host the Buccaneers next Sunday at 5:40 p.m. on Fox. The Saints (13-4) defeated the Bucs (12-5) in both regular-season meetings.

In a game where New Orleans struggled to find a rhythm early offensively, Deonte Harty, who returned this week from the Reserve/Injured list, proved to be consistent. Harris hauled in seven catches for 83 yards, both career highs. Star wideout Michael Thomas, who also returned to action this week after missing the previous three games, recorded five grabs for 73 yards including a 38-yard reception to help spark the offense in the second half.

Ten Saints players recorded a catch and the Saints controlled the time of possession, 38:58 to 21:02.

"I thought in the first half, it wasn't necessarily third downs, we had some minus plays and it was the complete opposite in the second half," Saints Coach Sean Payton said about the execution of the offense in his postgame press conference. "We didn't have a lot of possessions, but I know we had two long drives. I thought the second half time of possession was important. It proved to be important."

The Saints embarked on a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive in the third quarter that swung the game in their favor. On the drive, Taysom Hill and the New Orleans offense lined up for a fourth-and-three attempt at the Chicago 13-yard line with 5:09 remaining in the quarter when Bears cornerback Eddie Jackson committed a neutral zone infraction, giving the Saints a first-and-goal. A play later, Drew Brees connected with Latavius Murray for a six-yard score, extending the Saints' lead to 14-3.

Brees completed 28-of-39 passes for 265 yards and two scores. With his 27th completion Sunday, Brees surpassed Joe Montana for sole possession of fourth place on the all-time postseason completions list (462).

Saints star running back Alvin Kamara came up just short of the century mark on the ground as he carried 23 times for 99 yards and one score, including a 25-yard scamper.

The Saints' defense was dominant.

With the team's sack leader Trey Hendrickson ruled out of the game due to injury, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins wreaked havoc in the middle of the loaded Saints defensive front. Rankins recorded one sack.

New Orleans held Chicago to 239 total yards of offense. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky went 19-for-29 with 199 yards passing while running back David Montgomery notched just 31 yards on the ground.

The Saints set franchise records for fewest points allowed and fewest yards allowed in a postseason game.

"Our defense played outstanding," Payton said. "Really, the one field goal came off a turnover of ours. I thought it was a great team win."

Bears wideout Anthony Miller was ejected from the contest with 11:37 to play in the third quarter after shoving Saints cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Gardner-Johnson tallied eight total tackles.

Murray and Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson both left the contest with thigh injuries and did not return. Former Saints star Jimmy Graham scored the Bears' lone touchdown on the final play of the game. Chicago finished the season 8-9.

For complete Saints-Bears stats click here.

Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears matchup in the Wild Card round of the 2020 NFL playoffs.

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