The fifth of six Super Wild Card weekend matchups saw the 8-8 Chicago Bears visit the 12-4 New Orleans Saints. Alongside the traditional broadcasts, the game was also aired on Nickelodeon in attempts to attract young kids to the game. After Sunday’s showing, it might not be long before we see Mitch Trubisky back on Nickelodeon, it would just be in a very different capacity…
The Saints were heavily favoured in this one, though nobody can forget the past three years of shocking playoff exits. With New Orleans only taking a four point lead into halftime, it was hard not to imagine a fourth consecutive disappointing exit.
En route to that point, Drew Brees finally connected with Michael Thomas for an 11-yard touchdown. It was Thomas’ first touchdown grab in 385 days. The wide receiver had missed the three games leading up to the playoffs with an ankle injury that had him in and out of the lineup all season long. The opening score of the game made it 17 consecutive playoff games with a touchdown pass for Brees, who many think is playing his final season.
The Saints were unable to add any more points on the board for the rest of the half. For their part, the Bears only put up a field goal halfway through the second quarter, a testament to the Saints’ stout defence. Chicago did however have a golden opportunity to put up a touchdown when Javon Wims blew past his defender and Mitch Trubisky dropped a dime into his arms in stride. Inexplicably though, the ball fell right through the wideout’s hands. Must have been the slime.
New Orleans wasted no time getting back on the board after the half, with Brees finding Latavius Murray less than five minutes into the third quarter. The six-yard catch and run was set up when Chicago safety Eddie Jackson jumped offside on a fourth-and-three from the Bears’ 13.
The league’s fourth ranked defence strangled Chicago, rendering them incapable of executing whatever game plan they had come into the game with. It wouldn’t be a long shot to say that Trubisky needed to have an outstanding game in order to give himself a shot at getting a new contract in the Windy City. And with under 200 passing yards and a meaningless last second touchdown, it’s unclear whether or not he accomplished the feat.
However he did manage to win the first ever NVP (Nickelodeon Valuable Player) award in this game.
Alvin Kamara put the third Saints touchdown on the board in the fourth quarter when he ran three yards up the middle. The star back had 99 yards in his return from COVID-19.
New Orleans 21-9 win set them up for a Divisional round matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For the Saints to continue through these playoffs, their playmakers, namely Thomas and Kamara, are going to need to continue to produce. For as much firepower as their offence has with Brees at the helm, their defence offers as much, if not more of threat. The unit forced Chicago to be one-dimensional and if they can do that again against Tampa Bay, there’s a serious shot at seeing them in the NFC Conference Championship.